Past Horizons: Burial reveals complex origins of metallurgy.
“Tel Tsaf contained a rich assemblage of over 2,500 beads made of ostrich egg-shell, obsidian items originating in Anatolia or Armenia, four Ubaid pottery shards imported from either north Syria or Mesopotamia and a Nilotic shell from Egypt. These finds exhibit connections of unexpected distance and diversity.”
Guardian.UK: Battered pot found in Cornish garage unlocks Egypt excavation secrets.
“It was known that he gave pieces to individuals, at a time when a visit to a celebrity archaeologist’s dig was the highlight of any tourist or VIP trip down the Nile. The little label proves this was done on a systematic basis not previously guessed at. It is a neat commercially printed card, with an Egyptianate border, boasting that the ‘Libyan Pottery’ from 3,000 BC was discovered by Prof WM Flinders Petrie in 1894-5. The card was clearly one of many, but pot, card, and excavation record are linked by the faintly pencilled number 1754.” Simple cards may allow the discovery of more missing treasures. Take a look at the photo; see if your family owns any.
Guardian.UK: Stars in their eyes - architects and scientists mull designs for ark in space.
Use an asteroid. I’m tellin’ ya. Lots of ablative material, put the habitable areas on the backside (away from the direction of travel).
Medium: Mathematical Proof That The Universe Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing.
Not ashamed to admit it’s a bit beyond my ken.
Related: ScienceMag - Doubts shroud Big Bang discovery.
Slate: Quote websites are frequently inaccurate, but we use them anyway.
“These sites — your quotefreak.coms, your thinkexist.coms — cater to a growing appetite for filleted wisdom, for deboned wit, for the mechanically separated meat of literature.” I’ve found too many bad quotes over the years; I like to cross-reference through Gutenberg or other originals source. Checking context doesn’t hurt, either.
PS Mag: Hazards Ahead - The Problem With Trigger Warnings.
“Making trauma central to one’s identity bodes poorly for survivors.” My emphasis. Boy howdy.
Smithsonian: Listening to the Big Bang.
“Now, not only do we know the universe is expanding, not only do we have a credible proposal for what ignited the expansion, we’re detecting the imprint of quantum processes that tickled space during that fiery first fraction of a second.” More backstory and info within.
Dazed: Chile’s student Robin Hood burns $500m of loan documents.
BBC: Scans bring new insights into lives of Egyptian mummies
“Never before has anyone seen mummy hair, muscles and bone at such fine resolution. It is enabling scientists for the first time to tell their age of the mummies, what they ate, the diseases they suffered from, and how they died.” There’s a video to go with it, but I’ll put an ‘overzealous music accompaniment’ warning on the video. Seriously. Watch your eardrums.
Aeon: Beauty is truth? There’s a false equation.
“What generally brings a work of art alive is not its inevitability so much as the decisions that the artist made. We gasp not because the words, the notes, the brushstrokes are ‘right’, but because they are revelatory: they show us not a deterministic process but a sensitive mind making surprising and delightful choices. In fact, pure mathematicians often say that it is precisely this quality that delights them in a great proof: not that it is correct but that it shows a personal, tangibly human genius taking steps in a direction we’d never have guessed.”
The Nation: University Presses Under Fire.
IMHO, the mistake is expecting university presses to pay their way. There are many things that *need* to be published, that will never make more than two nickels to rub together. When they lay off their professional editing staff (people who know their narrow niches almost as well as the authors) and start using generalist freelancers, it’s the end of good scholarly works. UP’s are a mere shadow of their former glory, and this fact hurts us all, one way or another.
ArtDaily: Young people could be struggling to engage with the classics.
We’re so distant in chronological time, almost all context is gone. The details of prior centuries’ culture are no longer perpetuated. Downton Abbey doesn’t count; it’s not enough.
Past Horizons: Climate episode likely cause of Akkadian Empire collapse.
Guardian.UK: Divers stage emergency excavation of historic Thames shipwreck.
“The Thames has got so much silt. That’s why everything is in such good nick.” But not for long. Climate change is ushering in warmer waters which put the wreck and its treasures at risk of disintegration.
Wired: Awesomely Gross Medical Illustrations From the 19th Century.
Gross, yes, but also incredibly educational.
Archaeology: Searching for the Comanche Empire [In the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos!]
Read it all. Fascinating!
Planet Princeton: Princeton High Makes U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 Top 10 List.
“Princeton High is one of only three schools on the New Jersey Top 10 list that are open-enrollment schools. The remaining schools are charter, technical or magnet schools with a selective admission policy.” That’s my high school. Good for them!
Guardian.UK: Sun’s activity triggers lightning strikes.
“Activity on the sun significantly increases the rate of lightning strikes on Earth, say researchers, making it feasible to predict when lightning strikes will become more frequent.” Some of what we consider ‘nature’ is … supernatural?
Metropolitan Museum of Art: List of Rulers of Ancient Egypt and Nubia.
That’s a lot of Pharaohs.
ScienceMag: What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze?
“The team argues that when the quality and accuracy of the dating — which was based on radiocarbon and other techniques — is examined closely, only three of the 29 sites actually fall within the time frame of the Younger Dryas onset, about 12,800 years ago; the rest were probably either earlier or later by hundreds (and in one case, thousands) of years.” Don’t most dating techniques give you a range, rather than a specific date? I imagine theory-making based on flexible timelines is rather dicey; “one shouldn’t be too sure about anything.”
Serendipita: On Richard Feynman.
Wired: The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win.
“To understand this, think about Go in relation to chess. At the beginning of a chess game, White has twenty possible moves. After that, Black also has twenty possible moves. Once both sides have played, there are 400 possible board positions. Go, by contrast, begins with an empty board, where Black has 361 possible opening moves, one at every intersection of the 19 by 19 grid. White can follow with 360 moves. That makes for 129,960 possible board positions after just the first round of moves.” My italic emphasis. Perhaps strategists should dump chess as being too limited and simplistic.
The Archaeology News Network: New study sheds light on survivors of the Black Death.
“A new study suggests that people who survived the medieval mass-killing plague known as the Black Death lived significantly longer and were healthier than people who lived before the epidemic struck in 1347.”
ArtWatch.UK: Connoisseurship + the Making, Appraising, Replicating and Undoing of Art’s Images.
“Appreciation and discrimination may be of the theoretical essence in connoisseurship, but taken alone, without knowledge of and engagement with art’s practices, they leave the practioners susceptible to the traditional charge of being pretentious poseurs.”
CNet: Mysterious writing in rare 16th-century Homer identified.
“Working with colleague Giulia Accetta, who is proficient in contemporary Italian stenography and fluent in French, Metilli identified the script as a form of shorthand invented by shorthand author Jean Coulon de Thévénot in the late 18th century. The shorthand notes in the text are mostly French translations of Greek phrases from the Odyssey.”