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August 28 2014

The man who grew eyes


The train line from mainland Kobe is a marvel of urban transportation. Opened in 1981, Japan’s first driverless, fully automated train pulls out of Sannomiya station, guided smoothly along elevated tracks that stand precariously over the bustling city streets below, across the bay to the Port Island.

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August 28 2014

Self-driving cars need 'adjustable ethics' set by owners


One of the issues of self-driving vehicles is legal liability for death or injury in the event of an accident. If the car maker programs the car so the driver has no choice, is it likely the company could be sued over the car's actions.

One way around this is to shift liability to the car owner by allowing them to determine a set of values or options in the event of an accident.

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August 28 2014

One man and his droid: could robots replace sheep dogs?


The bucolic custom of a shepherd rounding-up his flock with a sheep dog is one of the few farming traditions which have endured in Britain, despite the mechanisation of much of the industry.

But technology could be at last threatening the Border Collie, after academics discovered the algorithm for herding sheep.

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August 28 2014

Designers Remake Our Oldest Tool Using Our Newest Tool


The hand axe is the first tool. Ever. Contrary to the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey, this tool isn't a bone, but a pointy rock - which is pretty impressive when you consider that it dates back at least 1.5 million years. Typically made of a flint stone, rounded on one side, pointed on the other, with sharp edges in between, the hand axe was an all-purpose utility tool used for hunting, digging, chopping and whatever other tasks early hominids could dream up. Today, we can dream up a lot more.

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August 28 2014

Stone-tipped spears lethal, may indicate early cognitive and social skills


Attaching a stone tip on to a wooden spear shaft was a significant innovation for early modern humans living around 500,000 years ago. However, it was also a costly behavior in terms of time and effort to collect, prepare and assemble the spear. Stone tips break more frequently than wooden spears, requiring more frequent replacement and upkeep, and the fragility of a broken point could necessitate multiple thrusts to an angry animal. So, why did early hunters begin to use stone-tipped spears?

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August 28 2014

Utah's Great Gallery rock art younger than expected, say scientists


Ancient Barrier Canyon-style paintings crafted on sunset-washed rock faces of the Great Gallery, located in Horseshoe Canyon in southern Utah's Canyonlands National Park, are younger than expected, say Utah State University scientists.

"The most accepted hypotheses pointed to the age of these paintings as 2,000 to 4,000 years old or perhaps even 7,000 to 8,000 years old.

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August 28 2014

Ani ruins reveal hidden secrets from below


The underground secrets of the historic Ani Ruins, an ancient, 5,000-year-old Armenian city located on the Turkish-Armenian border in the eastern province of Kars, have been revealed.

While speaking at the recent “International Ani-Kars Symposium,” history researcher Sezai Yaz&#305;c&#305; said secret water channels, undiscovered monk cells, meditation rooms, huge corridors, intricate tunnels, unbelievable traps and corners that make one lose their sense of direction were just some of the unknown underground structures located at the ancient site.

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August 28 2014

Alexander the Great-Era Tomb Will Soon Reveal Its Secrets


As archaeologists continue to clear dirt and stone slabs from the entrance of a huge tomb in Greece, excitement is building over what excavators may find inside.

The monumental burial complex — which dates back to the fourth century B.C., during the era of Alexander the Great — is enclosed by a marble wall that runs 1,600 feet (490 meters) around the perimeter. It has been quietly revealed over the last two years, during excavations at the Kasta Hill site in ancient Amphipolis in the Macedonian region of Greece.

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August 28 2014

New Articles: Hercules-Balarama and the Institution of Kingship in Ancient Egypt


This article is a continuation of a couple of previous articles that I have written on the topic of Hercules and Balarama, and their Egyptian counterpart Khonsu. In this two-part article, I shall explore the lasting impact that Hercules had on the institution of Kingship in ancient Egypt. But, before I begin, here is a brief outline of what I had discussed in the previous two articles.


Part 1
Part 2

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August 27 2014

How The Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built The Pyramids


The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world to survive largely intact. Almost 4000 years old, it is a vast structure constructed from 2.4 million limestone blocks, most about 2.5 tonnes but some weighing in at up to 80 tonnes. These were largely sourced from local limestone quarries.

That raises a famous question. How did the Egyptians move these huge blocks into place?


Paper here

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August 27 2014

Are There More Stonehenges Under Stonehenge?


One way to find out what’s under a rock is to lift it up and look. That’s impossible when the rock is Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire, England. Fortunately, archeologists have found a new way to look underneath Stonehenge and discovered it may not be the only Neolithic monument on the spot.

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August 27 2014

What Caused This Red Glow Over The Pacific Ocean?


The pilot and co-pilot of a Boeing 747-8 flying from Hong Kong to Anchorage, Alaska, were passing near the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka when they observed a fiery reddish glow over the Pacific. With no other planes in the area at the time to confirm the sighting, they took pictures of and reported to Air Traffic Control, then completed the flight to Anchorage. So … what was it?

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August 27 2014

30 metre wide sinkhole appears in Durham


A 30-metre (100ft) wide sinkhole has opened up in county Durham in the north-east of England, and it is so deep that its bottom cannot be seen.

The gaping void, thought to be the result of mine workings, was discovered on Thursday by Sam Hillyard, a Durham University academic, at Cowshill, in the rural area of Weardale – and it has since grown three times as big.

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August 27 2014

Iceland volcano: Bardarbunga hit by largest earthquake since eruption fears began


The Icelandic volcano that experts fear could erupt and cause significant disruption to air travel was hit by the largest earthquake since tremors began 10 days ago, the country's Meteorological Office said on Tuesday.

Intense seismic activity at Bardarbunga volcano has raised worries that an eruption could cause another ash cloud like that from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010, which shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days.

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August 27 2014

Can ‘experiential’ stuff let you buy happiness?


Conventional wisdom says that buying experiences brings more happiness than buying material items. But, if you’re going to buy an object, pick ones that provide you with experiences, say researchers.

Previous research compared how happy people feel from obtaining material items—purchases made in order “to have”—and from life experiences—purchases made in order “to do.” But this latest study examines people’s reactions to “experiential” products—purchases that combine material items and life experiences—on their well-being.

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August 27 2014

Modified yeast makes opiates for the first time


Severe pain? Reach for the yeast. Genetically engineered yeasts can now efficiently produce a range of opiates, including morphine and oxycodone. With growing anxieties about supplies of opium poppies, it could be just what the doctor ordered.

Opiates are primarily used as painkillers and cough suppressants, and many of the most widely used opiates can be produced only from opium poppies (Papaver somniferum).

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August 27 2014

Probiotics May Help Prevent Peanut Allergies, Animal Study Shows


Bacteria in the gut can help protect mice against peanut food allergies, according to a new study. The findings suggest that probiotics might help treat or prevent these potentially lethal food allergies in people, researchers say.

Food allergies, which are sometimes deadly immune system reactions to certain foods, currently affect about 15 million people in the United States. Food allergy rates among children rose by about 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

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