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November 29 2014

Aztec manuscript under the microscope


This extraordinary document, referred to as the Codex Borbonicus in reference to the Palais Bourbon, seat of the lower house of the French parliament, is one of France’s national treasures. It is one of six documents – an original parchment dating from the trial of Joan of Arc, a ninth-century Bible, two Rousseau manuscripts and the Serment du Jeu de Paume (Tennis Court oath) – that have not been allowed out of the country since the 1960s. Does it predate Cortés? Or, as suggested by the catalogue of a 2008 exhibition at Quai Branly, is it a colonial-era manuscript, resulting from the clash between Meso-American and western cultures?

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November 29 2014

3,500-Year-Old Dagger Found Being Used As A Doorstop


One person's trash turned out to be a national treasure. Back in 2002, a farmer leaving near East Rudham, Norfolk, in the United Kingdom, dug up a large bronze object that looked like a bent sword.

Not thinking much of it, the unnamed farmer used it as a doorstop for 12 years before deciding to throw it away, according to Dr. Tim Pestell, senior curator of archaeology at Norwich Castle.

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November 29 2014

Stone age axe found with wood handle


Archaeologists in Denmark have uncovered an incredibly rare find: a stone age axe held within its wooden handle.

The 5,500-year-old Neolithic axe was found during archaeological surveys ahead of a multi-billion euro tunnel project.

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November 29 2014

Ancient dental plaque: a ‘whey’ into our milk drinking past?


We drink milk because it is good for us, but we rarely stop to think “Why?” Archaeologists and geneticists have been puzzling this question since it was revealed that the mutations which enable adults to drink milk are under the strongest selection of any in the human genome.

These mutations cause the intestinal enzyme lactase - which digests lactose milk sugar during infancy - to continue to be produced long after weaning. This lactase persistence is prevalent only in some populations around the world such as in Northern Europe.

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November 29 2014

New age of the Lantian Homo erectus cranium extending to about 1.63 million years ago


According to paper published online November 20 in the Journal of Human Evolution, the age of the Lantian Homo erectus cranium from Gongwangling, Lantian County, Shaanxi Province, China, is likely half a million years older than previously thought. Earlier estimates dated this important fossil, which was found in 1964, to 1.15 million years ago. A research team of Chinese and British scientists, have provided compelling evidence that the fossil should be dated to 1.63 million years ago, making it the oldest fossil hominin cranium known in northeast Asia, and the second oldest site with cranial remains outside Africa.

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November 28 2014

"Great Surprise"—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins


Nearly one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe, rather than entirely from East Asians as previously thought, according to a newly sequenced genome.

Based on the arm bone of a 24,000-year-old Siberian youth, the research could uncover new origins for America's indigenous peoples, as well as stir up fresh debate on Native American identities, experts say.

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November 28 2014

23,000-year-old statue of woman with large breasts and buttocks found in France


A 23,000-year-old statue of a woman hailed as a “masterpiece” has been discovered in France

The 12cm sculpture was found on an archaeological site in Amiens. It shows a woman with large breasts and buttocks, the AFP news agency reported, adding that the head and arms were less detailed.

Nicole Phoyu-Yedid, the head of cultural affairs in the area, told the news agency: “The discovery of this masterpiece is exceptional and internationally significant.”.

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November 28 2014

Antikythera Mechanism older than thought


A riddle for the ages may be a small step closer to a solution: Who made the famed Antikythera Mechanism, the astronomical calculator that was raised from an ancient shipwreck near Crete in 1901?

The complex clocklike assembly of bronze gears and display dials predates other known examples of similar technology by more than 1,000 years. It accurately predicted lunar and solar eclipses, as well as solar, lunar and planetary positions.


Alt: The Mysterious Antikythera Mechanism Is More Ancient Than We Thought

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November 28 2014

Ancient rock art discovery across Asia


Latest research on the oldest surviving rock art of Southeast Asia shows that the region’s first people, hunter-gatherers who arrived over 50,000 years ago, brought with them a rich art practice.

Published this week in the archaeological journal Antiquity, the research shows that these earliest people skilfully produced paintings of animals in rock shelters from southwest China to Indonesia. Besides these countries, early sites were also recorded in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia.

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November 28 2014

Life's extremists may be an untapped source of antibacterial drugs


One of the most mysterious forms of life may turn out to be a rich and untapped source of antibacterial drugs.

The mysterious life form is Archaea, a family of single-celled organisms that thrive in environments like boiling hydrothermal pools and smoking deep sea vents which are too extreme for most other species to survive.

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November 28 2014

The Teen Brain “Shuts Down” When It Hears Mom’s Criticism


We all know that teen-parent relations can be a tricky business. Now neuroscientists from several leading US universities think they’ve found some new brain evidence that helps explain why.

The group from the Universities of Pittsburgh, California-Berkeley and Harvard, and led by Kyung Hwa Lee, invited 32 healthy pre-teens and teens – average age 14 and including 22 girls – into their brain imaging lab. The adolescents lay in the scanner as they listened to two 30-second clips of their own mother criticizing them.

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November 28 2014

Google and Stanford Built Similar Neural Networks Without Knowing It


&#8203;In 2012, an array of 16,000 computer processors, or “neural network,” taught itself to recognize a cat. The technology has come a long way since then. Networks of digital neurons are now able to analyze and caption not just single objects, but entire bustling scenes.

On Monday, researchers at Stanford’s Computer Vision Lab and Google Brain—the unofficial title for the artificial intelligence branch of Google X—separately announced that they’ve trained neural networks to describe complex photos with impressive accuracy and depth using machine learning and pattern recognition.

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November 28 2014

Computers Wrote the Caption for This Photograph, and Changed Everything


Computers at Google now have a machine-learning system that can analyze images like the one above and generate captions for them. The phrase used to caption this image? "A person riding a motorcycle on a dirt road." It might not seem like much, but it's actually one hell of an accomplishment.

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November 28 2014

New superconductor-powered wind turbines could hit Australian shores in five years


Australian scientists are developing wind turbines that are one-third the price and 1,000 times more efficient than anything currently on the market to install along the country's windy and abundant coast.

New superconductor-powered wind turbines could be installed off the coast of Australia within the next five years to finally take advantage of the country’s 35,000 km of coastline, which offers up some of the best wind resources in the world.

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November 28 2014

Scientists create lab-grown spinal cords


As regenerative medicine and stem cell technologies continue to progress, so the list of tissues and organs that can be grown from scratch – and potentially replaced – continues to grow. In the past few years, researchers have used stem cells to grow windpipes, bladders, urethras and vaginas in the lab, and, in some cases, successfully transplanted them into patients.

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November 28 2014

Vivid Dreams Comfort the Dying


Right before dying, many people experience vivid and meaningful dreams and visions, according to accounts across cultures and throughout history. Yet little scientific research has investigated the phenomenon. A new study in the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, the first study to focus primarily on the patient's perspective, found that most of these dreams are a source of personal comfort. They bring about a sense of peace, a change in perspective or an acceptance of death, suggesting that medical professionals should recognize dreams and visions as a positive part of the dying process.

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November 28 2014

Sleep's Link To Learning And Memory Traced To Brain Chemistry


Almost a century after the discovery that sleep helps us remember things, scientists are beginning to understand why.

During sleep, the brain produces chemicals that are important to memory and relives events we want to remember, scientists reported this week at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington D.C.


Related: Late-Night Meals May Interfere with Memory, Research Suggests

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