German Archaeologists Unearth Tomb of Mayan Prince at Uxul

A team of archaeologists from the University of Bonn, Germany, has discovered a tomb of a young prince at the ancient Mayan city of Uxul.

The team has been digging for four years together with Mexican antiquity authorities at Uxul in present-day Campeche, Mexico. The aim of the excavation project led by Prof Nikolai Grube and Dr Kai Delvendahl is to study the process of centralization and collapse of hegemonic state structures in the Mayan Lowlands using the example of the mid-sized archeological site at Uxul and its ties to the supraregional center at Calakmul.

Since 2011, the team has concentrated on the royal palace of Uxul which is located directly south of the main squares in the center of the ancient city. The royal palace, measuring about 120 x 130 meters, consists of at least eleven individual buildings which all are aligned around five courtyards.

“The finished palace complex was built around 650 AD, a time when the neighboring ruling dynasty from Calakmul was in the process of taking over large areas of the Mayan Lowlands,” Prof Grube said.

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Moon Formation May Have Been The Result Of Larger, Faster Planet Collision

While scientists tend to accept the theory that the Moon was formed following a collision between a young Earth and a second planet, new research published online earlier this month suggests that the impactor might have been larger and traveling faster than previously believed.

Current theory suggests that Earth satellite was formed when the protoplanet was hit by a second world, believed to have been about the size of Mars, billions of years ago, Evan Ackerman of Vice wrote on Thursday.

Now, however, Andreas Reufer of the University of Bern in Switzerland and a team of colleagues are claiming that the planet was actually larger, moving at faster speeds, and colliding with the Earth at a steeper angle than the current model would suggest. Furthermore, the object responsible for the collision may still be at large.

“It also would have transmitted significantly more energy into the Earth, heating up the mantle to 10,000 degrees,” Ackerman said. “It’s a lot more extreme of an idea, but it’s the only model that accurately explains why the Moon seems to be made entirely of stuff from the Earth and not from any rogue planet material.”

The problem with the current theory is that with a slower, grazing impact, the majority of the debris that would have eventually formed into the Moon would have originated from the planet which collided with Earth, the MIT Technology Review explained.

The hypothesis submitted by Reufer’s team fixes that problem, in that the additional velocity would have caused most of the impact debris to escape, while the debris left behind would have been a mixture of material from that planet and from Earth, “with an isotopic content that matches the observed signatures here and on the Moon,” they said.

“Of course, the debris that escaped would have carried away angular momentum as well as mass. This makes such a scenario challenging to model because it is hard to find a suitable set of starting conditions — mass, angular moment, impact angle, etc. — that produce a realistic Earth-Moon system. In fact, astronomers have discounted this scenario in the past for precisely this reason,” the MIT website added.

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"Ice avalanches" found on Saturn moon

It’s always cool when something new is discovered, especially when it’s about 750 million miles away from Earth.

Such is the case with one of Saturn’s moons known as Iapetus. Scientist Kelsi Singer was looking over images of the celestial body, which was already known to be very icy in its composition, found something no one had previously discovered.

There are massive avalanches that Singer describes as being similar to the ones that occur here on Earth. It’s significant because of the vastly different composition of Iapetus.

"The landslides on Iapetus are a planet-scale experiment that we cannot do in a laboratory or observe on Earth. They give us examples of giant landslides in ice, instead of rock, with a different gravity, and no atmosphere. So any theory of long runout landslides on Earth must also work for avalanches on Iapetus," Singer said.

The moon was previously not given a significant amount of attention. Saturn has 62 different moons so it certainly takes something unique or unusual to make one of them stand out.

As for actual actions that can be taken, obviously there’s not much other than continuing to investigate images of the moon.

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Earliest evidence for pottery making found

Fragments from a Chinese cave push back the dawn of the craft by more than 1,000 years.

Shards of pottery dating back 18,000 years have been unearthed in a cave in Hunan province, southern China.

The manufacture of ceramic pots and other items is generally associated with the change from Paleolithic hunter-gatherer societies into sedentary Neolithic communities, which began about 10,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean. But pottery manufacture began considerably earlier in East Asia, during the late Paleolithic. Until now, the earliest previous finds in East Asia were dated to 15,000–16,000 years ago.

In a new study, physicist Elisabetta Boaretto of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and archaeologist Xiaohong Wu of Peking University in Beijing and their colleagues show that humans were making containers out of fired clay even earlier than was previously thought.

Other excavations in the area around Yuchanyan Cave have unearthed early human settlements from the Late Pleistocene period. But dating finds from these sites have proved challenging. The complex layers of ash, clay and gravel make the sites difficult to analyse and it has been hard to find pure samples of organic material such as charcoal and bone for carbon dating.

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How your windows could be the future of electricity: Scientists create transparent solar panels out of ‘glass-like’ plastic

One of the occasional complaints around solar panels is that they are ‘an eyesore’.

Well this may be about to change, after researchers developed a new transparent solar cell which means windows in homes and other buildings can have the ability to generate electricity while still allowing people to see outside.

The University of California, Los Angeles team describes a new kind of polymer solar cell (PSC) that produces energy by absorbing mainly infrared light, making the cells nearly 70 per cent transparent to the human eye.

They made the device from a photo-active plastic that converts infrared light into an electrical current.

Power you can see through: The UCLA team have made solar panels that are almost transparent

'These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaics and in other applications,' said study leader Yang Yang, a UCLA professor of materials science and engineering.

Yang added that there has been intense world-wide interest in so-called polymer solar cells.

'Our new PSCs are made from plastic-like materials and are lightweight and flexible,' he said. 'More importantly, they can be produced in high volume at low cost.'

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Possible Alien Planet Smaller Than Earth May Be Lava World

Scientists have discovered what appears to be an alien planet just two-thirds the size of Earth, a heat-blasted world perhaps covered in molten lava, a new study reports.

Astronomers discovered the newfound alien planet, known as UCF-1.01, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. The diminutive world is just 33 light-years away, making it a near neighbor of Earth in the cosmic scheme of things.

"We have found strong evidence for a very small, very hot and very near planet with the help of the Spitzer Space Telescope,” study lead author Kevin Stevenson, of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, said in a statement. “Identifying nearby small planets such as UCF-1.01 may one day lead to their characterization using future instruments.”

UCF-1.01 remains a planet candidate — rather than an officially recognized planet — because researchers have yet to measure its mass. But the discovery team thinks it’s the real deal.

"Despite the lack of a confirmed mass, the team is confident future observations will verify our findings," said co-author Joseph Harrington, also of UCF.

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Greenland Ice Melt, Measured By NASA Satellites, Reaches Unprecedented Level

Unprecedented melting of Greenland’s ice sheet this month has stunned NASA scientists and has highlighted broader concerns that the region is losing a remarkable amount of ice overall.

According to a NASA press release, about half of Greenland’s surface ice sheet naturally melts during an average summer. But the data from three independent satellites this July, analyzed by NASA and university scientists, showed that in less than a week, the amount of thawed ice sheet surface skyrocketed from 40 percent to 97 percent.

In over 30 years of observations, satellites have never measured this amount of melting, which reaches nearly all of Greenland’s surface ice cover.

When Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory observed the recent melting phenomenon, he said in the NASA press release, “This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: Was this real or was it due to a data error?”

Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Georgia-Athens and City University of New York all confirmed the remarkable ice melt.

NASA’s cryosphere program manager, Tom Wagner, credited the power of satellites for observing the melt and explained to The Huffington Post that, although this specific event may be part of a natural variation, “We have abundant evidence that Greenland is losing ice, probably because of global warming, and it’s significantly contributing to sea level rise.”

Wagner said that ice is clearly thinning around the periphery, changing Greenland’s overall ice mass, and he believes this is primarily due to warming ocean waters “eating away at the ice.” He cautiously added, “It seems likely that’s correlated with anthropogenic warming.”

This specific extreme melt occurred in large part due to an unusual weather pattern over Greenland this year, what the NASA press release describes as a series of “heat domes,” or an “unusually strong ridge of warm air.”

Notable melting occurred in specific regions of Greenland, such as the area around Summit Station, located two miles above sea level. Not since 1889 has this kind of melting occurred, according to ice core analysis described in NASA’s press release.

Goddard glaciologist Lora Koenig said that similar melting events occur about every 150 years, and this event is consistent with that schedule, citing the previous 1889 melt. But, she added, “if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”

"One of the big questions is ‘What’s happening in the Arctic in general?’" Wagner said to HuffPost.

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2 million-year-old skeleton found in Cradle of Humankind

South African scientists claim to have uncovered the most complete skeleton yet of an ancient relative of man, hidden in a rock excavated from an archaeological site three years ago.

The remains of a juvenile hominid skeleton, of the newly identified Australopithecus (southern ape) sediba species, are the “most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered”, University of Witwatersrand palaeontologist Lee Berger said.

The skeleton is thought to be about 2 million years old.

The upright-walking tree climber would have been aged between nine and 13 years when he or she died.

"We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur [thigh bone], ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record," said Professor Berger, a lead professor in the finding.

The latest discovery was made in a one-metre-wide rock that lay unnoticed for years in a laboratory until a technician saw a tooth sticking out of the black stone last month.

It was then scanned to reveal significant parts of A.sediba, whose other parts were discovered in 2009 in the world-famous Cradle of Humankind north of Johannesburg.

It is not certain whether the species, which had long arms, a small brain and a thumb, was a direct ancestor of humans’ genus, Homo, or simply a close relative.

"It appears that we now have some of the most critical and complete remains of the skeleton," Professor Berger said.

Other team members were equally enthusiastic.

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Stephen Hawking trials device that reads his mind

TECHNOLOGY has helped Stephen Hawking in many ways, and now it might allow him to communicate using thought alone. The cosmologist is trialling a device that monitors brain activity with the ultimate aim of transforming it into speech.

Hawking has motor neurone disease - nerve decay that has left him almost completely paralysed. He currently communicates using a series of cheek twitches to select words from a screen. “It is a very, very slow process,” says Philip Low at Stanford University in California, who is founder of healthcare company NeuroVigil.

As Hawking loses control of his cheek, Low hopes he might instead communicate using his company’s portable device. The iBrain records brain activity from a single point on the scalp. An algorithm then extracts useful information from this activity.

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Red rain falls over India

Though not for first time in the state, red rain in parts of Kannur on Thursday did create some panic and curiosity among the residents in the district. The strange phenomenon happened around 6:50am and lasted for 15 minutes. People in the 1km area in and around Edachery in Puzhati panchayat panicked as their courtyards turned blood red after rain.

Kannur block panchayat president Shaija M, who collected the sample of the rainwater, said the water was as dark as black coffee and had the smell of raw beetroot. “I thought someone killed some animal and its blood got mixed with water on the courtyard,” she said. Akshay Sajeevan, another resident in the locality, said in his compound the colour of rainwater was a bit lighter. According to meteorological department, though red rain is a rare phenomenon, but it is no way harmful. “I assume this is due to atmospheric pollution. The pollutants in the air get dissolved in rainwater resulting in red rain,” said M Santhosh, director of meteorological department, Thiruvananthapuram.

Normally such rains occur during the beginning of monsoon. This time it happened in the middle of the monsoon as monsoon is weak. The residents are now planning to give the sample of the red rainwater to the health department for analysis.

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