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July 8 2014

MIT finger device reads to the blind in real time


Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words.

The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user's finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. A synthesized voice reads words aloud, quickly translating books, restaurant menus and other needed materials for daily living, especially away from home or office.

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July 8 2014

3D printer drones will take to skies by 2040, claim BAE scientists


3D printers could be so advanced by 2040 they could create small unmanned aircraft, BAE Systems claim.

These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) could then potentially be used as a group of wide-winged aircraft for protracted or enduring surveillance or as rotary-winged UAVs to rescue single civilians or soldiers from dangerous situations, the defence firm’s scientists and engineers suggest.

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July 8 2014

Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn't compete


Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.

For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.

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July 7 2014

Did Huge Impact Shape Planet Mercury?


The mysterious makeup of the solar system's innermost planet may be due to a massive "hit and run" collision billions of years ago, a new study reports.

A colossal but glancing smashup with a roughly Earth-size planet could have stripped away much of proto-Mercury's rocky mantle, explaining why the tiny, sun-scorched world has such a huge iron core today, researchers say.

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July 7 2014

Did Mars Curiosity Rover Snap Images Of A UFO?


If a picture is worth 1,000 words, how much are two pictures worth, especially if they show an odd-looking, allegedly descending light heading to the surface of Mars?

These are real pictures, taken by the Curiosity rover -- some reports say it took place on June 23, but according to information on the raw Jet Propulsion Laboratory images, it was June 20.

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July 7 2014

Is Makhunik an Ancient City of Little People?


In August 2005, a tiny mummified body was found in the ancient Persian village of Makhunik in what is now Iran. The discovery caused an international sensation when researchers reported that the remains belonged to an adolescent dwarf and that excavations of the ancient town revealed architecture that suggested it was a city of little people. The story has now resurfaced, following a report in PressTV, and is making its way rapidly around alternative news sites. Here we explore whether an ancient city of dwarfs really existed, or whether it is all just media sensation.

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July 7 2014

Oldest case of Down's syndrome from medieval France


The oldest confirmed case of Down's syndrome has been found: the skeleton of a child who died 1500 years ago in early medieval France. According to the archaeologists, the way the child was buried hints that Down's syndrome was not necessarily stigmatised in the Middle Ages.

Down's syndrome is a genetic disorder that delays a person's growth and causes intellectual disabilitye.

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July 7 2014

The last ice age


A team of scientists has discovered that a giant 'burp' of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the North Pacific Ocean helped trigger the end of last ice age, around 17,000 years ago.

A recent study, led by Dr James Rae of the University of St Andrews, found that changes in ocean circulation in the North Pacific caused a massive 'burp' of CO2 to be released from the deep ocean into the atmosphere, helping to warm the planet sufficiently to trigger the end of the ice age.

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July 7 2014

Flight may have evolved multiple times in birds


The bladed, quill-like feathers of modern birds are essential for flight, and over millions of years they have become highly specialized for this purpose. But this may not be the reason they first evolved, say researchers studying an unusually complete fossil of the world’s first bird, Archaeopteryx. Instead, the team believes birds first grew these feathers for other purposes, such as insulation or mating display. The discovery raises the intriguing prospect that flight may have developed multiple times in the ancestors of birds.

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July 7 2014

Timeline of human origins revised


Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa. Although scientists have recognized these characteristics for decades, they are reconsidering the true evolutionary factors that drove them.

A large brain, long legs, the ability to craft tools and prolonged maturation periods were all thought to have evolved together at the start of the Homo lineage as African grasslands expanded and Earth’s climate became cooler and drier.

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July 7 2014

Roman skeleton discovery could rewrite British history


For most archaeology students finding a piece of broken pottery or a glass bead is the highlight of their first dig.

But undergraduates at Bournemouth University have stumbled upon a major find which could rewrite Roman history in Britain.

For the first time the skeletons of a family have been uncovered at a Roman villa in Dorset field.

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July 7 2014

Cache of Roman and Corieltavi Iron Age coins discovered in cave


An excavation in Dovedale, Derbyshire by archaeologists from the National Trust, Leicester University and the Defence Archaeology Group (Operation Nightingale) has unearthed a hoard of Late Iron Age and Republican Roman coins, the first time coins of these two origins are thought to have been found buried together in a cave in Britain.

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July 7 2014

World's earliest erotic graffiti found in unlikely setting on Aegean island


Wild, windswept, rocky and remote, Astypalaia is not an obvious place for the unearthing of some of the world's earliest erotic graffiti.

Certainly, Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, didn't think so when he began fieldwork on the Aegean island four years ago. Until he chanced upon a couple of racy inscriptions and large phalluses carved into Astypalaia's rocky peninsula at Vathy. The inscriptions, both dating to the fifth and sixth centuries BC, were "so monumental in scale" – and so tantalisingly clear – he was left in no doubt of the motivation behind the artworks.

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July 7 2014

An Aztec shield gifted to a conquistador


In the sixteenth century the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés was presented with many gifts by members of the Aztec elite. Among these gifts it is believed that a warrior’s shield (chimalli) was included; an artefact which is now currently held at the Mexican National Museum of History.

A comprehensive study recently carried out by Emmanuel Lara to document the life of this rare piece (only one of four now remaining today), will ensure that its importance is fully understood in the context of Mexican history.

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July 7 2014

Prehistoric circle dated to same summer as Seahenge neighbour


A second prehistoric circle on a Norfolk beach has been dated to the same summer more than 4,000 years ago as its famous neighbour, Seahenge.

Archaeologists believe the two circles, which originally stood inland in boggy freshwater but are now being eroded gradually by the tides, were part of the same monumental complex connected with rites to honour the dead.


Related: Second 4,000 year old timber circle revealed

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July 7 2014

Major Viking site discovery described as ‘mind-blowing’


A tiny County Louth village has been confirmed as home to one of the most important Viking sites in the world.

Carbon testing on trenches at a ‘virgin’ site in Annagassan have revealed that the small rural community once housed a Viking winter base, one of only two in Ireland.

The other went on to become Dublin but the Annagassan site, 50 miles north of the capital, was believed to be the stuff of mythology and folklore until now.

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July 7 2014

Cursed Warship Revealed With Treasure Onboard


On the second day of a brutal naval battle in 1564, a cursed warship went up in a ball of flames, consigning 800 to 900 Swedish and German sailors and a fortune in gold and silver coins to the bottom of the Baltic Sea (map). Legend has it that a specter rose from the inferno to guard the pride of the Swedish navy—named the Mars for the Roman god of war—against ever being discovered.

Treasure hunters, archaeologists, and history aficionados have sought the Mars over the years.

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