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June 17 2014

Starwatch: A sister for the Sun?


A star has been found that may be a sister of our Sun, born in the same cloud of gas and dust in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The Sun, the Earth and the other planets coalesced some 4.54 billion years ago within a such a cloud, probably with thousands of other stars. This age comes from radiometric measures of radioactive isotopes and their decay products in meteorites, the oldest rocks we can handle, while there is plenty of observational evidence for ongoing star formation elsewhere in the galaxy.

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June 17 2014

Moon Bumps: Earth's Gravity Creates Lunar Bulges


Earth's gravitational pull is so powerful that it creates a small bulge on the surface of the moon. For the first time, scientists have observed this bump from orbit, using NASA satellites.

The gravitational tug-of-war between Earth and the moon is enough to stretch both celestial bodies, so they each end up having a slight oval shape, with the tapered ends facing each other.

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June 17 2014

Opportunity peers out from 'Pillinger Point'


NASA's decade old Opportunity rover has reached a long sought after region of aluminum-rich clay mineral outcrops at a new Endeavour crater ridge now "named 'Pillinger Point' after Colin Pillinger the Principal Investigator for the [British] Beagle 2 Mars lander", Prof. Ray Arvidson, Deputy Principal Investigator for the rover, told Universe Today exclusively. See above the spectacular panoramic view from 'Pillinger Point'...

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June 17 2014

Quantum theory reveals puzzling pattern in how people respond to some surveys


Researchers used quantum theory – usually invoked to describe the actions of subatomic particles – to identify an unexpected and strange pattern in how people respond to survey questions.

By conventional standards, the results are surprising: The scientists found the exact same pattern in 70 nationally representative surveys from Gallup and the Pew Research center taken from 2001 to 2011, as well as in two laboratory experiments. Most of the national surveys included more than 1,000 respondents in the United States.

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June 17 2014

Does the moon affect our sleep?


Popular beliefs about the influence of the moon on humans widely exist. Many people report sleeplessness around the time of full moon. In contrast to earlier studies, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich did not observe any correlation between human sleep and the lunar phases. The researchers analyzed preexisting data of a large cohort of volunteers and their sleep nights.

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June 17 2014

The Mysterious Dolmens of the Caucasus


The Western Caucasus, extending over 275,000 ha of the extreme western end of the Caucasus mountains and located 50 km north-east of the Black Sea, is one of the few large mountain areas of Europe that has not experienced significant human impact. Yet dotted within the pristine landscape are thousands of ancient megalithic structures built many millennia ago.

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June 17 2014

Climate Change Prompted Migrations in Ancient Peru, Says Genetic Study


The weather made me do it," as the saying might have gone for many, long-deceased and unnamed ancient Peruvians. Like some other populations throughout history, they were refugees of climate change who then flourished in their newly found home.

This is the story told by a recent genetic study that suggests that the evidence indicates periods of migration in pre-Columbian Andean societies in Peru, spurred on by local climate changes.

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June 17 2014

Archaeologists Return to Excavate Ancient Jaffa


Teams of archaeologists, students and volunteers will return this month to the site of ancient Jaffa on the central coast of Israel to pick up where they left off in 2013, when they uncovered more of the sensational evidence of a fiery destruction at the site's ancient Amarna period New Kingdom Egyptian fortress gate.

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June 17 2014

Archaeological cave dig unearths artefacts from 45,000 years ago


An archeological dig has revealed artefacts of early occupation so old they rival the dates of those found at sites of the earliest human settlement in Australia.

The discovery of the artefacts of animal bone and charcoal at the Ganga Maya Cave (named by traditional owners meaning 'house on the hill') in the Pilbara region of Western Australia are the subject of a scientific paper not yet submitted to archaeological journals.

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June 17 2014

2,000-Year-Old 'Shroud of Gothenburg' Goes on Display in Peru


A rare, 2000-year-old funeral shroud went on display at a museum in Lima, Peru. The pre-Incan, fragile textile is part of Paracas textiles that Sweden is returning to Peru.

The Shroud of Gothenburg has over 80 hues of blue, green, yellow and red - which are woven in a pattern of 32 frames, according to BBC.

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June 17 2014

US lifts restrictions on more detailed satellite images


Sites like Google and Bing Maps will be able to use higher-quality satellite images, thanks to US government restrictions being lifted.

Companies had not been allowed to make use of images where features smaller than 50cm were visible.

But one imaging firm, Digital Globe, said it would be able to sell images that showed features as small as 31cm.

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June 17 2014

Trapping light now possible for longer time than previously thought


Researchers at the University of Rochester discovered a way to trap light for a period of nanoseconds, longer than light has ever been confined to a small space. Using a nanostructure of silicon, the scientists produced an algorithm based on genetic principles to create a nanocavity (silicon wafer) 10 times more effective than other nanocavities in confining light.

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June 16 2014

Vanadium: The metal that may soon be powering your neighbourhood


Hawaii has a problem, one that the whole world is likely to face in the next 10 years. And the solution could be a metal that you've probably never heard of - vanadium.

Hawaii's problem is too much sunshine - or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid.

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June 16 2014

Nuclear industry explores accident-resistant fuel


The explosions that damaged a crippled Japanese nuclear plant during a disaster that forced mass evacuations in 2011 show what can happen when nuclear fuel overheats.

In response to the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, the U.S. government dramatically increased funding to develop tougher protective skins for nuclear fuel, hoping to spur innovation in designs that hadn't changed much in years. While the U.S. Department of Energy was spending $2 million before the accident on future fuel designs, the funding reached as much as $30 million afterward.

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June 16 2014

To cut down on sugar just change the background music


Playing 'sweet' sounding music over dinner could allow you to lower the amount of sugar in food without changing the taste in a phenomenon dubbed 'sonic seasoning' by experimental psychologists at Oxford University

Banishing excess sugar and salt from diets is a goal for many but the thought of bland, tasteless food often puts off people from ditching the additives.

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June 16 2014

Are Human Pheromones Real?


Strange as it may sound, some scientists suspect that the humble armpit could be sending all kinds of signals from casual flirtation to sounding the alarm. That’s because the body’s secretions, some stinky and others below the threshold your nose can detect, may be rife with chemical messages called pheromones. Yet despite half a century of research into these subtle cues, we have yet to find direct evidence of their existence in humans.

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June 16 2014

Citrus Growers Manufacture Huge Amounts of DMT


It may surprise you to learn that common citrus trees like oranges and lemons are actually Schedule I substances, in the same legal category as heroin. I know it sounds absurd, but it is absolutely true. Recent analysis published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Servillo et al. 2013) found that several citrus plants, including lemons and oranges, contain N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and 5-hydroxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (bufotenine).

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