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March 29 2015

How to put out a fire using nothing but bass


Firefighters use water or chemicals to put out fires, but two engineering students at George Mason University have shown that it’s possible to extinguish a blaze using nothing but sound. Seth Robertson and Viet Tran built a device that looks like a traditional fire extinguisher connected to a power unit the size of a small messenger bag, that uses booming bass notes to snuff out flames.

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March 29 2015

Our taste in music may age out of harmony


Music displays all the harmony and discord the auditory world has to offer. The perfect pair of notes at the end of the Kyrie in Mozart’s Requiem fills churches and concert halls with a single chord of ringing, echoing consonance. Composers such as Arnold Schönberg explored the depths of dissonance — groups of notes that, played together, exist in unstable antagonism, their frequencies crashing and banging against each other. Dissonant chords are difficult to sing and often painful to hear.

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March 29 2015

Playing music by musicians activates genes responsible for brain function and singing of songbirds


Although music perception and practice are well preserved in human evolution, the biological determinants of music practice are largely unknown. According to a latest study, music performance by professional musicians enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopaminergic neurotransmission, motor behavior, learning and memory. Interestingly, several of those up-regulated genes were also known to be responsible for song production in songbirds, which suggests a potential evolutionary conservation in sound perception and production across species.

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March 29 2015

Kids who are adopted get a boost in IQ


New research has found that children who are adopted have slightly higher IQs than siblings who remained with their biological parents. The study, published in PNAS, was designed to tease apart genetic and environmental influences on intelligence. The results suggest that the education level of the parents who raise the child can have an impact on IQ, but there is still a strong relationship between the intelligence of the child and his or her biological parents.

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March 29 2015

More teens use pot when schools suspend for drugs


Suspending teenagers from school for using marijuana isn’t likely to stop other teens from doing the same. In fact, school suspensions probably lead to more—not less—pot use among students.

While enforcement of anti-drug policies is a key factor in whether teens use marijuana, the way schools respond to policy violators matters greatly.

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March 29 2015

What they do in the shadows: my encounters with the real vampires of New Orleans


Vampires walk among us. But these people aren’t the stuff of nightmares – far from it actually. Just sit down for a drink with one of them and ask for yourself. That’s if you can find one. They aren’t necessarily looking to be found.

I’ve spent five years conducting ethnographic studies of the real vampires living in New Orleans and Buffalo. They are not easy to find, but when you do track them down, they can be quite friendly.

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March 29 2015

Archaeologist Discovers Mysterious Ancient Maya Citadel


For three decades, archaeologist Anabel Ford has been exploring and studying the ancient Maya site of El Pilar, but until now she has never encountered anything like the ‘Citadel’.

“We discovered a completely new component of the greater site that does not meet with any traditional expectations,” said Ford. “It shares nothing in common with Classic Maya centers."


Related: Geopolitics in Aztec-era Mesoamerica

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March 29 2015

Tutankhmun's chair is 'safe and sound', says museum official


Public outrage erupted today over rumours which emerged in the media reporting that further damage occurred to Tutankhamun’s funerary collection during its transportation between museums.

Some media reported that the wooden gilded chair of the boy king Tutankhamun was broken during its transportation between the Egyptian museum in Tahrir Square to the planned Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking Giza plateau.


Related: Remarkably Preserved 18th Dynasty Tombs Found in Luxor

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March 29 2015

Destroyed Mosul artefacts to be rebuilt in 3D


It didn't take long for the scientific community to react. Two weeks after the sacking of the 300 year-old Mosul Museum by a group of ISIS extremists went viral on Youtube, researchers from the ITN-DCH, IAPP and 4D-CH-WORLD projects launched Project MOSUL to virtually restore damaged artefacts and make them accessible from virtual museums.

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March 28 2015

How this vast ancient underground city was accidentally discovered in Turkey


Of all the famed underground cities pockmarking the landscape in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, perhaps the most remarkable is the underground network called Derinkuyu. When swelled to capacity, it could house 20,000 people in its 18 stories of living quarters, shops and escape routes. Today, it’s recognized as one of the jewels of this Turkish archaeological wonderland.


Alt: Massive ancient underground city discovered in Turkey's Nevsehir

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March 28 2015

Stone-age Italians defleshed their dead


About 7000 years ago in Italy, early farmers practiced an unusual burial ritual known as “defleshing.” When people died, villagers stripped their bones bare, pulled them apart, and mingled them with animal remains in a nearby cave. The practice was meant to separate the dead from the living, researchers say, writing in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity.

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March 28 2015

Earliest humans had diverse range of body types, just as we do today


One of the dominant theories of our evolution is that our genus, Homo, evolved from small-bodied early humans to become the taller, heavier and longer legged Homo erectus that was able to migrate beyond Africa and colonise Eurasia.

While we know that small-bodied Homo erectus – averaging less than five foot (152cm) and under 50kg – were living in Georgia in southern Europe by 1.77 million years ago, the timing and geographic origin of the larger body size that we associate with modern humans has, until now, remained unresolved.

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March 28 2015

Neolithic culture may have kept most men from mating


Studying the varying genetic diversity of different population groups is one method for piecing together the migration history of our species. Many analyses find a bottleneck in non-African populations dating back to around 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. This coincides neatly with the current estimate of the first wave of anatomically modern humans out of Africa. When humans first migrated out of Africa, they created a genetic bottleneck. Because a minority of people migrated, they took a minority of total human genetic diversity with them to the new colonies in Europe and Oceania.

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March 28 2015

Poisons, plants and Palaeolithic hunters


Dozens of common plants are toxic. Archaeologists have long suspected that our Palaeolithic ancestors used plant poisons to make their hunting weapons more lethal.

Now Dr Valentina Borgia has teamed up with a forensic chemist to develop a technique for detecting residues of deadly substances on archaeological objects.

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March 28 2015

A Hallucinogenic Tea Time for Some Brazilian Prisoners


As the night sky enveloped this outpost in Brazil’s Amazon basin, the ceremony at the open-air temple began simply enough.

Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. They gulped it down; some vomited. Hymns were sung. More ayahuasca was consumed. By midnight, the congregants seemed strangely energized. Then the dancing began.

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March 28 2015

Scientists edge closer to creating rehydrating beer that prevents hangovers


Scientists in Australia are looking to create beer that rehydrates you as you drink – stopping hangovers (or making them far less severe).

Researchers at the Griffith University Menzies Health Institute in Queensland are trying to develop the beer that rehydrates you, but that actually tastes the same as normal beer.

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March 28 2015

High-Fat Diet May Alter Behavior And Brain: Gut Bacteria May Increase Anxiety, Impaired Memory


So often we hear about the negative effects of a high-fat diet: The more fatty foods we eat, the more we put ourselves at risk for diseases, such as obesity and heart disease. But do high-fat foods threaten our psyche, too?

A study recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry hypothesized a high-fat diet produces changes in health and behavior (partly) by altering a person’s gut microbiota. Prior research suggests “alterations in the microbiome may underlie the host’s susceptibility to illness, including neuropsychiatric impairment” — and present researchers decided to put this theory to the test.

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