News, news and more news. We don't just fill your Xmas stocking, we're here for the duration.

News Briefs 03-11-2006

Whudaya know! 'One man' can change the world, a pun can be relatively pain-free, and, contrary to popular opinion, a few sane humans still inhabit the globe.

  • Update: Octopus - Genius of the deep. (Read, save, or pay-per-view later.)
  • Archaeologists believe they have found a third Jellinge stone - a Viking-era stone engraved with ancient Danish Rune writing.
  • Hoard of Viking-era silver coins found in Sweden.
  • Norwegian archaeologists have found a Viking farmer buried with horse, sword, spear and shield.
  • Scholar's long-discredited theory on Dead Sea Scrolls finds support in new archaeological dig.
  • When did Native Americans first arrive on the North American continent, and where did they settle? Researchers say this question can only be addressed underwater, and plan a multiyear expedition to chart ancient coastlines, now underwater, in order to find the first settlements. More here. As I suggested, they may also look in underwater caves.
  • 30,000 year old fossils found in Romanian cave display mixture of modern human and neanderthal features.
  • Eighth-century Buddhist caves discovered in Afghanistan.
  • Arrgh! 'Recovering artifacts' my eyepatch! Marine archaeologists are 'looting' the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's lead ship.
  • You will forget the world at Deir Mar Moussa. Large photos follow text; not for the faint of bandwidth.
  • 92-year-old Turkish archaeologist acquitted in headscarf case.
  • Enviro-cataclysm of the week: Major study says that by mid-century, there will be virtually no fish left in the seas. Brits will have no more fish and chips by 2048. Seafood gumbo and clam chowder will also be distant memories.
  • Giant shockwaves around a distant cluster of galaxies could be generating some of the mysterious cosmic rays that strike Earth. They could also give us a clue as to why the universe is threaded with magnetic fields.
  • When the Phoenix spacecraft takes off for Mars in August, 2007, it will take along a DVD with messages from visionaries of our time to future visitors or settlers on Mars. Sign up here, and this DVD will also include your name.
  • UK doctors find that novel new treatment heals congestive heart failure.
  • Scientists use stem cells to grow artificial human liver.
  • A study in Nature has found that obese mice on a high-fat diet got the benefits of being thin - living healthier, longer lives - without the pain of dieting when they consumed huge doses of red wine extract (roughly equal to a human consuming 100 glasses a day) containing resveratrol, which spurs mitochondrial activiity and regrowth. Researchers are using words like spectacular, astounding, and Holy Grail.
  • In a controversial study, researchers have resurrected a retrovirus that infected our ancestors millions of years ago and now sits frozen in the human genome.
  • Forgetful? The Mayo Clinic says a virus may be eating your brain.
  • Are social attitudes inherited? Political scientists and geneticists are questioning 8,000 sets of twins, to test their theory that politics may be in the genes.
  • A traditional healer in Samoa may have found the cure for HIV.
  • Psychiatrists probe what happens in the brain when people 'speak in tongues'.
  • Global study dispels what we thought we knew about sex.
  • Think-tank study says Britain's teenagers are among the most badly behaved in Europe. Why UK teens struggle to cope.
  • About two years ago in Sydney, Juan Mann quietly began offering 'Free Hugs'. Now, thanks to 10,000 people signing a petition, a Sick Puppies video on YouTube, and a visit to The Oprah Show, the 'Free Hugs' movement is spreading like wildfire.

Thanks Rico.

Quote of the Day:

Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don't struggle to get them right.

Stephen Jay Gould

News Briefs 02-11-2006

November already? I'm experiencing time contraction effects...

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

The Earth is a farm. We are someone else's property.

Charles Fort

News Briefs 31-10-2006

Unbelievable amount of fascinating news (and videos) today - and I even tried to avoid all the usual crappy Halloween stories floating about. I hope you have *lots* of time up your sleeve...

Oops, I almost forgot... Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

Thomas Jefferson

News Briefs 30-10-2006

U2 will be playing Brisbane this week, so if you see Bono up there Greg, can you please tell him I still can't get tickets for their Melbourne gigs? He's not returning my calls.

  • Leonardo Da Vinci may have had an Arabic heritage, according to Italian researchers studying his fingerprint. I'd write a mystery thriller about that, but ...
  • Erotic murals in a Pompeii brothel have been painstakingly restored and opened to the pubic ... I mean, public.
  • Here's a brilliant interactive map where you can vote for the Eighth Ancient Wonder of the World from sites that were rejected for a new list of seven to be revealed Nov 9th. The Great Wall of China was robbed!
  • A scientist claims dinosaurs lived for another 300'000 years and weren't killed off by the Mexico meteor strike. There's evidence they're still alive.
  • This almost-dinosaur-killing crater in the Gulf of Mexico may be outsized by an even bigger crater thought to exist in Hudson Bay.
  • The rise of the Appalachian Mountains may have triggered an ice age 450 million years ago by sucking CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Climate change could ruin the world economy unless dramatic action is taken. Geezus, now Bush Co. are blaming the weather?!
  • Despite this, the amount of research into alternative energy technologies by both government and industry is drastically falling.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope won't be falling anytime soon, but only if NASA agrees to ambitious repair plans.
  • Prof Chandra Wickramasinghe, who pioneered the panspermia theory that life on earth was seeded from outer space, has retired.
  • US scientists have cracked the entire genetic code of breast and colon cancers, offering new treatment hopes.
  • The future of the internet will be discussed by the first global Internet Governance Forum, created by the UN and held in Athens over five days. Ironic, considering that's the birthplace of true democracy.
  • Not coincidental is Amnesty International's call for Bloggers to show their support for online freedom of expression, which they believe is under threat.
  • New media downloadable to iPods will help make the paranormal go mainstream.
  • A builder says he can't have been the only one to witness three strange objects in the sky over Ipswich.
  • A UFO was witnessed around 2am floating slowly over the Ranches of Sonterra in New Mexico.
  • Twenty-nine years later, William Bartlett is adamant that the 4-foot-tall creature with glowing orange eyes and a watermelon-shaped head he saw on an eerie night was not human.
  • A review of a new book, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Jeff Meldrum (Amazon US or UK).
  • A survey suggests 37 percent of Americans believe in ghosts and hauntings, but some prefer to keep the skeletons in the closet.
  • A St Albans Innkeeper has hired a paranormal investigator to bust her ghost.
  • A paranormal research team is investigating an extreme haunting at the historic Arcadia Academy.
  • Staff and customers at Latitudes Restaurant in Auburn claim to regularly see ghosts. Don't eat the mousse.
  • Here's another great article about paranormal investigator Robert Reppert, and the rambling spirits of Route 49.
  • The Scotsman laments the forgotton and neglected traditions that inspired Halloween, replaced by a commercial monster.
  • A dream interpreter says to throw out your dream dictionaries, because symbolism in dreams is unique to the individual dreamer. I've been dreaming someone would speak this sweet common sense for years.
  • Link updated: Dreamer and writer John Milo 'Mike M.' Ford passed away recently, and here's a very moving article remembering him. Kat will know him by his wonderful Star Trek novels, How Much For Just The Planet? (Amazon US or UK), and The Final Reflection (Amazon US or UK).

Thanks Kat. (Kat thanks Pam.)

Quote of the Day:

It has been said that, if a person is going to die, he should do it in the morning: when the day is new and clean and full of unanswerable questions, when the sun has just risen to cast an afterglow on the things that have been done by night. It has also been said that, if a person is going to die, the circumstances are irrelevant.

From John 'Mike' Ford's unfinished novel, Aspects


News Briefs 27-10-2006

These are the fragments I have shored against my ruins. I wonder if Eliot would be pleased or appalled?

  • Update: Newly-released secret documents reveal that the mysterious death of the 'real James Bond' was hushed up.
  • What happens when you throw an elephant into a black hole? After pondering for decades, Leonard Susskind has finally come up with an answer - which shakes the foundations of physics.
  • Soil minerals point to past planet-wide ocean on Mars.
  • Knowing the universe in detail (except for that pesky 96% of it).
  • Gas hole in Big Bang theory explained.
  • Enviro-catastrophe of the week: World's leaders warned: tackle climate change or face deep recession.
  • Enviro-catastrophe runner up: Sea change - why global warming could leave Britain feeling the cold.
  • Rat studies suggest that ecstasy boosts the number of dopamine-producing cells in the brain - a finding which could lead to rave results for people with Parkinson's.
  • The human body typically disposes of a billion billion genomes’ worth of 'garbage DNA' every day. Japanese scientists have discovered that mice which cannot degrade their garbage DNA develop a condition very similar to human arthritis.
  • Ancient human hunters could smell blood on the breeze. It's said that journalists retain this sense to modern times...
  • Neandertal gene study reveals early split with humans.
  • Ancient footprints found in Mexico valley.
  • Ancient brothel restored in Pompeii.
  • Giant predators known as terror birds once dominated South America. The fossil of the largest terror bird yet has been found in Argentina.
  • Ancient manure may be earliest proof of horse domestication.
  • Team finds another seven tombs nearby in what is believed to be the site of ancient Tuba, one of Syria's first cities.
  • Thieves first to discover royal dentists' tombs at Egypt's Saqqara pyramids.
  • When an art object vexes, nuke it.
  • New device will allow bilingual speech as you talk.
  • Atlantis Ho! David Hatcher Childress has traveled all over the globe in search of lost cities, but Kempton, Illinois, is where he has chosen to build his empire of the improbable.
  • Skunk Ape photographer (and skeptic-turned-believer) Judy Caseley responds to comments posted at Cryptomundo.
  • Russian scientists say tests prove their super-purified water can cure cancer and restore youth. Ahh, Pravda.
  • An interview with several modern-day werewolves.
  • Scientist bites myth of vampires, ghosts.
  • Legend has it: why scientists are turning to myths for inspiration.
  • The militant new Atheism.
  • Fortune says there's a growing revolt of the fairly barely rich, who are rapidly spreading the word (Paul Revere-style?) that "If people no smarter or better than you are making 50 or 100 million dollars a year while you're working yourself ragged to earn a million or two - or, God forbid, $400,000 - then something must be wrong." Snarkilicious, but Pollyanna restrained me, whispering, they may yet discover they share commonalities with the Founding Fathers beyond mere purse size.
  • Eyewitness To History: The instinct to tell what we have seen is as old as humanity.

Thanks Greg, Isis, and Pam.

Quote of the Day:

President Nixon looked just awful. He used glasses--the first time I ever saw them. Close to breaking down--understandably. Everyone in the room in tears. The speech was vintage Nixon--a kick or two at the press--enormous strains. One couldn't help but look at the family and the whole thing and think of his accomplishments and then think of the shame and wonder what kind of a man is this really. No morality--kicking his friends in those tapes--all of them. Gratuitous abuse. Caring for no one and yet doing so much. When he used the word "plumbers" meaning it "laboring with his hands" the connotation was a shock on me. I remember Lt. Col. Brennan who has been with him so long--Marine--standing proudly but with tears running down his face. People who labored next to Nixon's side forever are not invited. It's weird.

Part of George H. W. Bush's diary entry for Aug. 9, 1974, the day Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. More here.

News Briefs 26-10-2006

It's weird science day, with a few 'normal' TDG stories thrown in for good measure. And I use 'normal' in the loosest possible sense...

  • Instead of searching for signals from ET, should we start beaming noise out ourselves. As the article says, is it wise to shout in the jungle?
  • Russia says that it is ready to repel asteroids if the Earth needs saving. Just think Armageddon, but replace all the jingoistic Americanisms with hammers, sickles and lots of red.
  • Queen guitarist Brian May launches new astronomy book, co-written with Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott (Amazon UK).
  • Tombs found in Syria hold treasures, signs of ritual sacrifice, and a never-before-seen type of writing.
  • NASA's Messenger does a fly-by of Venus.
  • Zahi Hawass, Egypt's rotweiller for repatriating archaeological treasures. With Playboy-like shot of Hawass, for all the ladies out there.
  • Geologists turn to ancient tales in order to discover new hotspots.
  • Is there room for a soul?
  • Science finally tackles hypnosis.
  • Scientists present method for entangling macroscopic objects. I think the game is called Twister guys.
  • UK considers beaming broadband Internet into homes from airships.
  • 360-million-year-old fossil found, which is almost the same as its modern-day counterpart. Does that mean it is the ideal evolutionary specimen, or God's perfect creature? One for both sides of the debate to ponder.
  • Researchers make important advancement in unravelling the mysteries of fusion energy.
  • Australia plans world's biggest space-age solar power station. If there's one thing we've got, it's sun. And flies. And beer. Mmm, beer.
  • Speaking of Australia - new program to train prisoners as crocodile handlers. Yeah sure, 'train'. Just like all those Christians who 'trained' as lion handlers at the Coliseum.
  • Chinese river mysteriously turns red. The best part is, it's called the Yellow River. That's gotta confuse people...
  • Swiss orchestra conductor goes on trial again for Solar Temple ritual deaths.
  • Self-portraits chronicle an artist's descent into Alzheimer's.
  • Pelican caught on video eating a pigeon. Not for the squeamish - consider yourself warned.
  • Subliminal nude pictures focus the attention. Trust me, they don't need to be subliminal.
  • Mars rover "beginning to hate Mars". An exclusive to The Onion.

Thanks Kat.

Quote of the Day:

The time taken to evolve a fish eye from flat skin was minuscule: fewer than 400,000 generations. For the kinds of small animals we are talking about, we can assume one generation per year, so it seems that it would take less than half a million years to evolve a good camera eye.

Richard Dawkins

News Briefs 25-10-06

Short, strange and RAW.

Quote of the Day:

It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.

Robert Anton Wilson

News Briefs 24-10-2006

I know exactly what you mean Rick...

Quote of the Day:

Today it is the fashion to talk of “drugs” in a monolithic sense, as if they were all the same, and as if they were all necessarily bad....our culture is out of step with the entire record of human experience; it is our culture which is eccentric, bizarre and deeply obtuse.

Paul Devereux

News Briefs 23-10-2006

I can't think of an opening line.

  • Symbols carved into 8600-year-old tortoise shells and other bones found in a Neolithic grave in central China may edit the history of writing.
  • A translation of the 2400-year-old Derveni Papyrus, a mystical text discussing the fate of the soul and other philosophies, has finally been completed. My novels might take a bit longer.
  • Heritage Malta has begun efforts to preserve 5000-year-old graffiti carved into megaliths at the Tarxien Temples.
  • An eminent 92-year-old Turkish archaeologist is to be tried for inciting religious hatred because she suggested in her book that the use of headscarves by women dated back to pre-Islamic sexual rites. Unfortunately the article doesn't explain how the headscarves were used.
  • Mosaics from the late Roman period have been uncovered at the ancient city of Hadrianoupolis on the coast of the Turkish Black Sea, decorated with a myriad of animals and birds.
  • A travel piece (with a stunning photo) about the 5000-year-old ruins of Caral, Peru.
  • Archaeologists found the remains of a Viking-era ship within a burial mound on a Norwegian farm. It's not every day I get news from Norway!
  • Been a while since we heard from Zahi Hawass too, who has just announced the first-ever discovery of a tomb belonging to a Pharaoh's dentist. Click "next photo" for more pics and info.
  • The US State Department has delayed a decision to restrict the imports of Chinese antiquities to the United States, making museum directors and art dealers happy, but dismaying archaeologists and angering China.
  • A report in New Scientist says that if people were to become extinct today, all traces of humankind would be eradicated in 200'000 years. I'm sure plastic bags and six-pack rings will be floating around somewhere.
  • Science teachers say the demotion of Pluto brings new opportunities to teach kids about the solar system, and perhaps inspire future space pioneers. I bet it was the Taylor kids who taught their dad how to use Celestia.
  • A new study suggests life can exist deep underground for millions of years without any energy input from the sun, boosting hopes for subterranean life on Mars.
  • NASA scientists say the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica has grown to the biggest size ever recorded -- larger than the North American continent.
  • Folk in the UK will get a stunningly clear night to watch the Orionid meteor shower this Sunday. Bring your own soap and shower-cap.
  • A dozen space elevator prototypes are competing for US$150'000 in the X Prize Cup. Wouldn't you be annoyed if someone hit all the buttons?
  • A new study from Stanford University says one in eight web-surfing adults are addicted to the internet. Don't look at me, Kat, they refused to accept TDG volunteers for fears it'd make their statistic-machines explode.
  • A major exhibition at London's Science Museum ponders the history of video games, and asks if they're a blessing or a curse? When I pwn noobs and ninja l33t loot, it's a blessing, but when I get pwned by noobs and have my l33t loot ninja'd, it's a curse.
  • From Pravda, tales of people suffering from cranial injuries developing extraordinary abilities.
  • A Russian woman claims to eavesdrop on dolphins, and she can also communicate with ants.
  • Maybe she can talk to Narwhal whales, who have distinctive voices, according to researchers who have recorded individuals for the first time.

Quote of the Day:

It doesn't have to be a big fire, a small blaze, candelight perhaps...

Ray Bradbury

News Briefs 20-10-2006

Gootube? I sure hope that's not official.

Thanks Greg.

Quote of the Day:

Harold: What were you fighting for?
Maude: Oh, Big issues. Liberty. Rights. Justice. Kings died, kingdoms fell. I don't regret the kingdoms - what sense in borders and nations and patriotism? But I miss the kings.

An ancient, youthful Maude explaining her radical past to a youthful, ancient Harold in the 1971 movie, Harold and Maude.