Filed under: Science
World’s Oldest Human Remains were discovered in Israel
- This challenges conventional wisdom that Homo sapiens originated in Africa.
- Eight teeth uncovered in an Israeli cave are the earliest traces of our species known.
Israeli archaeologists have discovered human remains dating from 400,000 years ago, challenging conventional wisdom that Homo sapiens originated in Africa, the leader of excavations in Israel said on Tuesday.
Avi Gopher, of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology, said testing of stalagmites, stalactites and other material found in a cave east of Tel Aviv indicates that eight teeth uncovered there could be the earliest traces so far of our species.
“Our cave was used for a period of about 250,000 years — from about 400,000 years ago to about 200,000 years ago,” he told AFP.
“The teeth are scattered through the layers of the cave, some in the deeper part, that is to say from 400,000 years and through all kinds of other layers that can be up to 200,000 years. The oldest are 400,000 years old,” he added.”
That calls into question the widely held view that Africa was the birthplace of modern man, said Gopher, who headed the dig at Qesem Cave.
“It is accepted at the moment that the earliest Homo sapiens that we know is in east Africa and is 200,000 years old — or a little less. We don’t know of anywhere else where anyone claims to have an earlier Homo sapiens,” he said.
Gopher said the first teeth were discovered in 2006 but he and his team waited until they had several samples, then conducted years of testing, using a variety of dating methods, before publishing their findings.
Digging continues at the cave, the university said, with researchers hoping to “uncover additional finds that will enable them to confirm the findings published up to now and to enhance our understanding of the evolution of mankind, and especially the appearance of modern man.”
Filed under: Science
The boundaries of knowledge in physics look set to be broken soon with scientists around the globe locked in a multi-billion-dollar race to solve great mysteries. Their quest is to find the secrets of dark matter and the ‘God particle’ – a sub-atomic particle that is fundamental to understanding the nature of matter, but so elusive that, physicists quip, it can only be compared to divinity.
Physicists and cosmologists will tell you that there are elegant theories and messy ones. Almost all of them believe the universe conforms to an elegant one. A central goal of today’s physics, in fact, is to show that at its very beginning, the universe was ordered and unified. But this unity didn’t last for long. Just instants after the Big Bang, as the explosion cooled and its contents scattered, the cosmos’ forces and matter differentiated. The universe fell from a state of perfect grace into its current complexity, in a cosmic parallel to Adam and Eve.
Many great minds took giant steps toward bringing the universe’s lost unity out of hiding. In 1964, Peter Higgs, a shy scientist in Edinburgh, added his name to that list by coming up with an ingenious theory that gave scientists the tools to explain how two classes of particles, which now appear to be different, were once one and the same. His theory proposes the existence of a single particle responsible for imparting mass to all things — a speck so precious it has come to be known as the “God particle.” The scientific term for it is the Higgs boson.
Contemporary physicists tend to fall into one of two camps: the theorists, who posit ideas about the origins and workings of the universe; and experimentalists, who design telescopes and particle accelerators to test these theories, or provide new data from which novel theories can emerge. Most experimentalists believe that the theorists, due to a lack of new data in recent years, have reached a roadblock — the Standard Model, which is the closest thing the theorists have to an evidence-backed “theory of everything,” provides only an incomplete explanation of the universe. Until theorists get further data and evidence to move forward, the experimentalists believe, they end up simply making wild guesses about how the universe works.
To scientists in the early 20th century, for example, quantum mechanics may have seemed outrageous. “The concept that you could have a wave-particle duality — that an object could take on either wave-like properties or point-like properties, depending on how you observe it — takes a huge leap of imagination,” says Roberto Roser, a scientist at Fermilab. “Sometimes outlandish papers turn out to be the laws of physics.”
The first and most important order of business is to prove (or disprove) the existence of a single particle known as the Higgs boson — a speck so precious that it has come to be called the “God particle,” a reference to the theory that Higgs gives mass to all matter in the cosmos.
It works like this: Across the post–Big Bang universe, collections of Higgs bosons make up a pervasive Higgs field — which is theoretically where particles get mass. Moving particles through a Higgs field is like pulling a weightless pearl necklace through a jar of honey, except imagine that the honey is everywhere and the interaction is continuous. Some particles, such as photons, which are weightless particles of light, are able to cut through the sticky Higgs field without picking up mass. Other particles get bogged down, accumulating mass and becoming very heavy. Which is to say that even though the universe appears to be asymmetrical in this way, it actually is not — the Higgs field doesn’t destroy nature’s symmetry; it just hides it.
If scientists at CERN are able to locate the Higgs particle in the early years of this new century, it would shore up the basic scientific tenet that what exists at the very foundations of our universe is beauty and unity. It’s something to continue to strive for, at least.
But if it does exist, the Higgs would help plug a hole in the so-called Standard Model — the far-reaching set of equations that incorporates all that is known about the interaction of subatomic particles and is the closest thing physicists have to a testable “theory of everything.” But many theoreticians feel that even if the Higgs boson exists, the Standard Model is unsatisfactory; for instance, it is unable to explain the presence of gravity, or the existence of something called “dark matter,” which prevents spiral galaxies like our Milky Way from falling apart. Even the mighty Higgs cannot explain those mysteries — though through telescopes and observation, we know they exist.
The significance of the God particle is as old as time itself: scientists believe that at the moment of the Big Bang, when the universe was born, there existed a moment of incandescent beauty — of perfect symmetry — in which all things and all forces were in absolute agreement. The universe’s four forces — the weak force, strong force, electromagnetism and gravity — had yet to differentiate, and the tiny particles that carried those forces had yet to emerge as separate entities. As the explosion cooled and its contents scattered, complexity engulfed the universe, splitting its symmetry asunder — a cosmic parallel to Adam and Eve.
The goal of modern theoretical physics is to reveal the universe’s lost elegance. A major breakthrough in that effort came in 1964, when Peter Higgs, a shy British scientist in Edinburgh, introduced a theory that could explain how particles that carry two of the four forces — those that carry the electromagnetic force, and those that carry the weak force — came to have different masses as the universe cooled (in the moment after the Big Bang, of course, nothing had mass, existing instead in a sort of naked, ethereal beauty). Extrapolating from Higgs’ theory, scientists were able to explain how all particles get their mass — which would explain, in turn, how everything in the universe, from scientists at CERN to the grand Jura Mountains that surround them, comes to have weight.
The way to find the Higgs boson is to create an environment that mimics the moment post–Big Bang. The powerful LHC runs at up to 7 trillion electron volts (TeV) and sends particles through temperatures colder than deep space at velocities approaching the speed of light. (The second most powerful particle accelerator, at Fermilab in Illinois, runs at 1 TeV.) The added juice allows scientists to get closer to the high energy that existed after the Big Bang. And high energies are needed, because the Higgs is thought to be quite heavy. (In Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2, C represents the speed of light, which is constant; so in order to find high-mass particles, or M, you need high energies, E.) It’s possible, of course, that even at such high energies, the Higgs boson will not be found. It may not exist.
The ATLAS particle detector at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) outside Geneva is 150 ft. long, 82 ft. high, weighs 7,000 tons, and contains enough cable and wiring to wrap around Earth’s equator seven times. It’s a mammoth machine, designed for the delightful purpose of detecting particles so tiny, you can fit hundreds of billions of them into a beam narrower than a human hair.
ATLAS occupies just one small corner of the strange and wonderful world that is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — the circular, 14-mile-underground particle accelerator that promises scientists untold insights into the mysteries of the cosmos. More than 25 years in the planning, with a price tag of about $10 billion, the LHC officially — finally — began smashing protons together on March 30. The goal: to answer the most fundamental questions about how the universe works.
Physicists will collide electrons and their antimatter opposites, positrons, at energies of 500 billion electron volts. The scheme – which could be extended to 50 kilometres and a trillion electron volts – will hurl these particles at close to the speed of light. The resultant collision could unlock dark matter and dark energy, the invisible, enigmatic substances that together are thought to comprise 96 per cent of the mass of the universe.
Sometime on Nov. 3, the supercooled magnets in sector 81 of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), outside Geneva, began to dangerously overheat. Scientists rushed to diagnose the problem, since the particle accelerator has to maintain a temperature colder than deep space in order to work. The culprit? “A bit of baguette,” says Mike Lamont of the control center of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which built and maintains the LHC. Apparently, a passing bird may have dropped the chunk of bread on an electrical substation above the accelerator, causing a power cut. The baguette was removed, power to the cryogenic system was restored and within a few days the magnets returned to their supercool temperatures.
researchers at the Tevatron collider, at the famous Fermilab facility near Chicago in the U.S., believe they could be in with a chance. New calculations suggest that the upper limit for the Higgs is 153 GeV, which is within the Tevatron’s range.
Meanwhile, physicists at Stanford University in California said they have conducted an experiment that proves the viability of a low-cost collider technology called a plasma accelerator.
Instead of using a giant magnet and a huge tunnel to accelerate the particles, their accelerator uses a tunnel just three kilometres long to speed up a beam of electrons.
By passing the electrons through a cloud of ionised gas, or plasma, that is just one metre across, the team were able to double the particle’s energy – a massive booster effect, they report in the British journal Nature.
Only a tiny fraction of the electrons in the beam were accelerated this way, though, and the beam itself is not ‘concentrated’ enough to get a good yield of particle collisions.
According to Wormser, “Plasma accelerators are a promising technology and may be the solution for the future, but on a timescale of 20 to 25 years at least.”
The LHC, a 17-mile underground ring designed to smash atoms together at high energies, was created in part to find proof of a hypothetical subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. According to current theory, the Higgs is responsible for imparting mass to all things in the universe. But ever since the British physicist Peter Higgs first postulated the existence of the particle in 1964, attempts to capture the particle have failed, and often for unexpected, seemingly inexplicable reasons.
In 1993, the multibillion-dollar United States Superconducting Supercollider, which was designed to search for the Higgs, was abruptly canceled by Congress. In 2000, scientists at a previous CERN accelerator, LEP, said they were on the verge of discovering the particle when, again, funding dried up. And now there’s the LHC. Originally scheduled to start operating in 2006, it has been hit with a series of delays and setbacks, including a sudden explosion between two magnets nine days after the accelerator was first turned on, the arrest of one of its contributing physicists on suspicion of terrorist activity and, most recently, the aerial bread bombardment from a bird. (A CERN spokesman said power cuts such as the one caused by the errant baguette are common for a device that requires as much electricity as the nearby city of Geneva, and that physicists are confident they will begin circulating atoms by the end of the year)
While most scientists would write off the event as a freak accident, two esteemed physicists have formulated a theory that suggests an alternative explanation: perhaps a time-traveling bird was sent from the future to sabotage the experiment. Bech Nielsen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, have published several papers over the past year arguing that the CERN experiment may be the latest in a series of physics research projects whose purposes are so unacceptable to the universe that they are doomed to fail, subverted by the future
In a series of audacious papers, Nielsen and Ninomiya have suggested that setbacks to the LHC occur because of “reverse chronological causation,” which is to say, sabotage from the future. The papers suggest that the Higgs boson may be “abhorrent to nature” and the LHC’s creation of the Higgs sometime in the future sends ripples backward through time to scupper its own creation. Each time scientists are on the verge of capturing the Higgs, the theory holds, the future intercedes. The theory as to why the universe rejects the creation of Higgs bosons is based on complex mathematics, but, Nielsen tells TIME, “you could explain it [simply] by saying that God, in inverted commas, or nature, hates the Higgs and tries to avoid them.”
Many physicists say that Nielsen and Ninomiya’s theory, while intellectually interesting, cannot be accurate because the event that the LHC is trying to recreate already happens in nature. Particle collisions of an energy equivalent to those planned in the LHC occur when high-energy cosmic rays collide with the earth’s atmosphere. What’s more, some scientists believe that the Tevatron accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (or Fermilab) near Chicago has already created Higgs bosons without incident; the Fermilab scientists are now refining data from their collisions to prove the Higgs’ existence.
Nielsen counters that nature might allow a small number of Higgs to be produced by the Tevatron, but would prevent the production of the large number of particles the LHC is anticipated to produce. He also acknowledges that Higgs particles are probably produced in cosmic collisions, but says it’s impossible to know whether nature has stopped a great deal of these collisions from happening. “It’s possible that God avoids Higgs [particles] only when there are very many of them, but if there are a few, maybe He let’s them go,” he says.
Given the problems with the Standard Model, some physicists have come up with elaborate alternatives to explain the workings of the cosmos, including the existence of multiple, alternate dimensions, or hidden “supersymmetric partners” to all the universe’s particles. To them, failure to find the Higgs — or finding the Higgs among an ensemble of strange and new particles — would be welcome, since it would suggest that more ambitious theories are needed.
The essence of string theory is actually very simple. String theory links together certain key feature of particle physics with certain key features of dimensions to extend both concepts in a way that describes, and thus kinda explains, all forces including subatomic forces and gravity. Any detail beyond that is almost incomprehensible. Like so many other things in the physical sciences (even basic engineering) there is a gap between the typical human understanding of a phenomenon and the mathematical model that fits the phenomenon. The human understanding may lead to a set of predictions or descriptions that are just plain wrong, while the mathematical formulation leads to predictions or descriptions that are just plain right, and that actually tell us about things we cannot really otherwise guess at. In some cases, the math forces us (through the proximate mechanism of curiosity) to find a way to make an observation that we would never otherwise make. To make detectable a particle normally hidden from our human senses, for instance. String theory has yet to produce a description that outlines a gap in physical (observed) knowledge that can be filled with a doable experiment. If the large hadron collider manages certain amazing tricks, a couple of predictions of String Theory may be tested,
I don’t like to focus so much
On death, but rather on life and
Love. But I have found this
Near Death Experience
Is rather Amazing.
Dr. Michael Sabom is a cardiologist made a detailed medical and scientific analysis of an amazing near-death experience of a woman named Pam Reynolds. She underwent a rare operation to remove a giant basilar artery aneurysm in her brain that threatened her life. The size and location of the aneurysm, however, precluded its safe removal using the standard neuro-surgical techniques. She was referred to a doctor who had pioneered a daring surgical procedure known as hypothermic cardiac arrest. It allowed Pam’s aneurysm to be excised with a reasonable chance of success. This operation, nicknamed “standstill” by the doctors who perform it, required that Pam’s body temperature be lowered to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brain waves flattened, and the blood drained from her head. In everyday terms, she was put to death. After removing the aneurysm, she was restored to life. During the time that Pam was in standstill, she experienced a NDE. Her remarkably detailed veridical out-of-body observations during her surgery were later verified to be very accurate. This case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of veridical evidence in NDE research because of her ability to describe the unique surgical instruments and procedures used and her ability to describe in detail these events while she was clinically and brain dead.
For practical purposes outside the world of academic debate, three clinical tests commonly determine brain death. First, a standard electroencephalogram, or EEG, measures brain-wave activity. A “flat” EEG denotes non-function of the cerebral cortex – the outer shell of the cerebrum. Second, auditory evoked potentials, similar to those [clicks] elicited by the ear speakers in Pam’s surgery, measure brain-stem viability. Absence of these potentials indicates non-function of the brain stem. And third, documentation of no blood flow to the brain is a marker for a generalized absence of brain function.
But during “standstill”, Pam’s brain was found “dead” by all three clinical tests – her electroencephalogram was silent, her brain-stem response was absent, and no blood flowed through her brain. Interestingly, while in this state, she encountered the “deepest” NDE of all Atlanta Study participants.
At the time as the neurosurgeon began to operate on the head of Pam Reynolds, the cardiothoracic surgeon, a Dr Murray, began an operation to insert the tubing of the cardiac bypass machine into the blood vessels in her groin. Cardiac bypass applied via tubing inserted into the blood vessels of the groin is a standard technique, and part of the procedure of hypothermic cardiac arrest. Blood is pumped out of the body, passes through a heat exchanger circuit in the cardiac bypass machine, is cooled, and pumped back into the body. This makes it possible to efficiently cool the whole body, as well as pump blood around the body when the heart eventually stops beating due to cooling of the body.
The body of Pam Reynolds was eventually cooled to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Centigrade), the circulation of blood in her body was stopped, and the aneurysm was successfully operated. At this temperature, the metabolism of the brain and the heart is lowered to such a degree that the circulation can safely be stopped for about 45-60 minutes without causing any brain or other tissue damage. Subsequent to successfully operating on the aneurysm, the cardiac bypass machine was restarted, and used to restore her body temperature back to the normal 37 degrees Centigrade. Normal heart action was restored, the cardiac bypass tubing removed, and all the operation wounds were closed.
BBC: Pam Reynolds NDE.
Pam sees God.
Filed under: Science
Organic Molecules Discovered in 66-Million Year Old Fossil
“This is the closest many people will ever get to seeing what large parts of a dinosaur actually looked like, in the flesh,” said Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at Manchester University in England, a member of the international team researching Dakota.
Buried in a remote corner of North Dakota was a remarkably well-preserved dinosaur with fossilized skin, ligaments and tendons. You can even see scales on its side. The specimen turned out to be a duck-billed plant eater called a hadrosaur. “The skin hadn’t collapsed in around the bone, and at that point I knew that we had a 3-D dinosaur mummy. I was absolutely thrilled.”
Palaeontologist Tyler Lyson who received a scholarship to study for his PhD in paleontology at Yale University. Discovered the fossil of a mummified dinosaur, later dubbed Dakota, on his family’s farm. Dakota is one of only five dinosaur mummies ever discovered and is an important paleontological find. Why is it important to find one so complete? Because bones don’t tell you what the animal really looked like. Imagine if you found elephant bones, but you’d never seen a living one.
Dakota was found with its skin envelope, along with other areas, including its tail, arms and legs, largely intact. In this almost complete form, Dakota is essentially a three-dimensional fossil.
In December 2007 Dr Phil Manning, a palaeontologist at the University of Manchester and the leader of the recent excavation at the site of discovery, said “the skin has been mineralised” and it was possible “Dakota could contain other soft-tissue remnants”, according to the National Geographic website. This means that scientists will have more to study than just bone. Dakota’s preservation allows for research into tissue-based substances such as tendons, muscles and organs.
On July 3, 2009, researchers said they had found “preserved organic molecules” in Dakota’s skin, according to www.media-newswire.com. Researchers said they believed Dakota’s soft tissues had failed to decay because they were protected by “fine sediments that formed a mineral cast”, preventing bacteria from eating away at the tissue.
To be in this condition, Dakota’s body would have needed to be mineralised, a feat in itself, and remained largely untouched by predators and unharmed by geological changes. Furthermore, Dakota would have had to be buried very soon after its death to be preserved in such an unusual way.
It is “absolutely amazing to be able to identify organic molecules from soft tissue that belonged to a beast that died over 66-million years ago”, said Manning, “this is the closest you’re going to get to patting the animal”.
Dakota, a plant-eating hadrosaur, is ranked in Manning’s top-10 fossils and is about 66-million years old. Advanced techniques have shown that Dakota was duckbilled and had a double layer of skin, similar to that of modern day birds and reptiles, which are likely to have been related to the ancient creature.
The rare find, with evidence of skin, tissue, internal organs and bones, provides a great insight into the prehistoric world. The scientific community has been amazed and excited at the discovery. Organic Molecules have Discovered in 66-Million Year Old Fossil. This is amazing. Even more amazing :
Sounds like a Gift from God
the photos are here
Saturn’s northern aurora glows bluish- green in this color-coded infrared image.
Scientists say the northern lights on Saturn are unlike anything they’ve ever seen, on Earth or elsewhere in the solar system. Infrared imagery from the Cassini orbiter, accompanies research published in the journal Nature, only adds to the mystery at the top of the ringed planet.
Saturn’s north pole is already home to a bizarre six-sided cyclone that planetary scientists haven’t yet figured out. That observation marked the first time a hexagon had been seen in atmospheric patterns.
One of the most bizarre weather patterns in the solar system has been photographed at Saturn, where astronomers have spotted a huge, six-sided feature circling the north pole.
Rather than the normally sinuous cloud structures seen on all planets that have atmospheres, this thing is a hexagon.
The honeycomb feature has been seen before. NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft imaged it more than two decades ago. Now, having spotted it with the Cassini spacecraft, scientists conclude it is a long-lasting oddity.
“This is a very strange feature, lying in a precise geometric fashion with six nearly equally straight sides,” Kevin Baines, atmospheric expert and member of Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said Tuesday in an image advisory. “We’ve never seen anything like this on any other planet. Indeed, Saturn’s thick atmosphere, where circularly shaped waves and convective cells dominate, is perhaps the last place you’d expect to see such a six-sided geometric figure, yet there it is.”
The hexagon is nearly 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) across. Nearly four Earths could fit inside it. The thermal imagery shows that the hexagon extends about 60 miles (100 kilometers) down into the clouds.
At Saturn’s south pole, Cassini recently spotted a freaky eyelike feature that resembles a hurricane.
“It’s amazing to see such striking differences on opposite ends of Saturn’s poles,” said Bob Brown, team leader of the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer at the University of Arizona. “At the south pole we have what appears to be a hurricane with a giant eye, and at the north pole of Saturn we have this geometric feature, which is completely different.”
The hexagon appears to have remained fixed with Saturn’s rotation rate and axis since first glimpsed by Voyager 26 years ago. The actual rotation rate of Saturn is still uncertain, which means nobody knows exactly how long the planet’s day is.
“Once we understand its dynamical nature, this long-lived, deep-seated polar hexagon may give us a clue to the true rotation rate of the deep atmosphere and perhaps the interior,” Baines said.
The hexagon can’t be seen in Cassini’s visible-light imagery because the area is currently in darkness during Saturn’s 15-year polar night — but the thermal signature shows up clearly in the infrared views, captured during a 12-day period last October and November.
In the next couple of years, lighting conditions may change enough for the hexagon to show up in visible-light views, NASA said.
The northern auroral displays, monitored by Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, also go against the conventional wisdom.
Concerning the influence of Saturn :
Saturn flows the energy of kindness and giving . These powers can be used for bad or Good. Their ultimate result from Saturn is either folly or true wisdom. Saturn is called “the most elevated”. It also influences for destruction, ruin, death, affliction, weeping, grief. These are the most negative or positive influences for providence. Its energy flows through black stones as marble or onyx. Among plants Aloe manifests its healing energy. It flows also through cinnamon. On the negative side is included all poison plants. Its energy flow from the Carob tree and lentil bean.
Saturn heavily influences the mental faculties. The ability to use worlds. It is involved in isolation from other humans. Saturn communicates the power to dominate others.
By the Power the God flows through Saturn Divine secrets become revealed and Knowledge concerning the worship of the God. In it is the power of “fear”. In it is the power to discover hidden treasures. Those things which require great work and yield great rewards. It is over the flow of poverty. Things hidden in the body of man. By Saturn’s energy one can become crazy of attain “Supernal Wisdom”. Its day is
The Sabbath as it says in the Bible “And Moses gathered all the congregation of the people of Israel together, and said to them, These are the words which the Yhv”h has commanded, that you should do them. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a sabbath of rest to Yhv’H (the Lord)”
This is based on “The Beginning of Wisdom” by Avraham Ibn Ezra and other sources