Bizarre Phenomenon in the Sky – Hawaii Telescope – July 29, 2011

Bizarre Phenomenon in the Sky – Hawaii Telescope – July 29, 2011

on July 29, 2011 the Hawaii Telescope recorded a strange and unusual phenomenon in the sky.

It is possible a vortex or should we think of a stargate?

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Besides the strange object in the sky, the Pu’u O’o crater (KilaueaVolcano) on Hawaii is ready to flow.

19°25’16″ N 155°17’13″ W, Summit Elevation 4091 ft (1247 m)
Current Volcano Alert Level: WATCH
Current Aviation Color Code: ORANGE

Activity Summary for past 24 hours: Kilauea volcano’s activity is supplying two lava lakes and a lava flow advancing southwest from Pu`u `O`o crater. In the east rift zone, Pu`u `O`o Crater is still bursting at its seams: sources within Pu`u `O`o crater fed a lava lake perched in the middle of the crater floor that started to subside; lava activity from sources outside the perched lake but within Pu`u `O`o Crater filled small pits on the west side of Pu`u `O`o crater and spilled over about 700 m southwest. At the summit, DI deflation started and the lava lake level dropped a few hours later. Seismicity levels were low. Gas emissions remained elevated from summit and rift zone vents.

Click on above image to watch the video of the Pu`u `O`o Crater

There is a link between the Bizarre Phenomenon in the sky and the current activity of the crater or is it just natural phenomena.. but it remains strange.


Hawaii Volcano Watch:                                

Canada – France – Hawaii Telescope:               

Hawaii Telescope – Time Lapse Movie:

Source and author: cfht.hawaii    *  (youtube)




From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and others
Saqqara, Egypt: Sakkara
 File:Egypt terrain map Cairo Karnak.jpg

Saqqara (or SakkaraSaqqarahArabic: سقارة‎) is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of mastabas. Located some 30 km (19 mi) south of modern-day Cairo, Saqqara covers an area of around 7 by 1.5 km (4.3 by 0.93 mi).

Egypt: Saqqara picture 1

Well over 200 feet high, it rises in seven-steps over an underground mastaba, a rectangular flat tomb whose form imitates a mud-brick house. Around the pyramid and within a 1.5-kilometer walled enclosure, is a copy of the king’s palace at Memphis, but the buildings are solid masonry, without internal rooms. Two are visible here on the left. They line the ceremonial court, and their form imitates tents of the kind used for celebrating the king’s jubilee–here continuing for eternity.

At Saqqara, the oldest complete hewn-stone building complex known in history was built:Djoser‘s step pyramid, built during the third dynasty. Another 16 Egyptian kings built pyramids at Saqqara, which are now in various states of preservation or dilapidation. High officials added private funeral monuments to this necropolis during the entire pharaonic period. It remained an important complex for non-royal burials and cult ceremonies for more than 3,000 years, well into Ptolemaic and Roman times.

Egypt: Saqqara picture 2

The limestone blocks are much smaller than those used later at Giza and suggest that the builders were used to buildling with brick.

North of the area known as Saqqara lies Abusir; south lies Dahshur. The area running fromGiza to Dahshur has been used as necropolis by the inhabitants of Memphis at different times, and it has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

Contrary to popular belief, the name Saqqara is not derived from the ancient Egyptian funerary god Sokar, but from the Beni Saqqar who are a local Berber tribe. Their name means “Sons of Saqqar.” Since they are not indigenous to the area it would not follow that they would fashion themselves as being born of an ancient Egyptian god whose identity was unknown until the age of archaeology.

Egypt: Saqqara picture 3

The burial chamber is about 100 feet below the base of the pyramid–or about half the height of the pyramid above ground. The architect, whose name appears on a statue, was Imhotet, whose fame led eventually to deification.


Early Dynastic

File:Saqqara pyramid.jpg

Stepped pyramid at Saqqara


View of Saqqara necropolis, includingDjoser‘s step pyramid (centre). The mound to the far left is the Pyramid of Unas; the one on the right is the Pyramid of Userkaf.

The earliest burials of nobles can be traced back to the First Dynasty, at the north side of the Saqqara plateau. During this time, the royal burial ground was at Abydos. The first royal burials at Saqqara, comprising underground galleries, date to the Second Dynasty. The last Second Dynasty kingKhasekhemwy was buried in his tomb at Abydos, but also built a funerary monument at Saqqara consisting of a large rectangular enclosure, known as Gisr el-Mudir. It probably inspired the monumental enclosure wall around the Step Pyramid complex. Djoser’s funerary complex, built by the royal architect Imhotep, further comprises a large number of dummy buildings and a secondary mastaba (the so-called ‘Southern Tomb’). French architect and Egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer spent the greater part of his life excavating and restoring Djoser’s funerary complex.

File:Saqqara map.jpg

Early Dynastic monuments

File:Saqqara BW 1.jpg

Funerary complex of Djoser

Old Kingdom

Nearly all Fourth Dynasty kings chose a different location for their pyramids. During the second half of the Old Kingdom, under the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties, Saqqara was again the royal burial ground. The Fifth and Sixth Dynasty pyramids are not built of massive stone, but with a core consisting of rubble. They are consequently less well preserved than the world famous pyramids built by the Fourth Dynasty kings at GizaUnas, the last ruler of the Fifth Dynasty, was the first king to adorn the chambers in his pyramid withPyramid Texts. It was custom for courtiers during the Old Kingdom to be buried in mastaba tombs close to the pyramid of their king. Clusters of private tombs were thus formed in Saqqara around the pyramid complexes of Unas and Teti.

Egypt: Saqqara picture 4


Old Kingdom monuments

First Intermediate Period monuments

  • pyramid of king Ibi (Dynasty 8)

Middle Kingdom

From the Middle Kingdom onwards, Memphis was no longer the capital of the country, and kings built their funerary complexes elsewhere. Few private monuments from this period have been found at Saqqara.

Second Intermediate Period monuments

New Kingdom

During the New Kingdom Memphis was an important administrative and military centre, second only to the capital. From theEighteenth Dynasty onwards many high officials built tombs at Saqqara. When still a general, Horemheb built a large tomb here, though he was later buried as Pharaoh in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes. Other important tombs belong to the vizier Aperel and toMaia, the wet-nurse of Tutankhamun.

Egypt: Saqqara

The 1.5-kilometer wall enclosing the pysramid has only one gate, here

Many monuments from earlier periods were still standing, but dilapidated by this period. Prince Khaemweset, son of PharaohRamesses II, made repairs to buildings at Saqqara. Among other things, he restored the Pyramid of Unas and added an inscription to its south face to commemorate the restoration. He enlarged the Serapeum, the burial site of the mummified Apis bulls, and was later buried in the catacombs. The Serapeum, containing one undisturbed interment of an Apis bull and the tomb of Khaemweset, were rediscovered by the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette.

Egypt: Saqqara picture 6

Inside, there’s a hall with columns imitating papyrus bundles. Unable yet to build freestanding columns, the builders here supported the inchoate form with walls.

New Kingdom monuments

After the New Kingdom

In the periods after the New Kingdom, when several cities in the Delta served as capital of Egypt, Saqqara remained in use as a burial ground for nobles. Moreover the area became an important destination for pilgrims to a number of cult centres. Activities sprang up around the Serapeum, and extensive underground galleries were cut into the rock as burial sites for large amounts of mummified ibises, baboons, cats, dogs, and falcons.

Monuments of the Late Period, the Graeco-Roman and later periods

Site looting during 2011 protests

Saqqara and the surrounding areas of Abusir and Dahshur suffered damage by looters during the 2011 Egyptian protests. Store rooms were broken into; the monuments were mostly unharmed.

See also

Pyramid of Djoser

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pyramid of Djoser
File:Pyramid of Djoser 2010.jpg


Constructed 2667–2648 BC[1]
Type Step Pyramid
Height 62 metres (203 ft)
Base 125.27 metres (411 ft) (larger)
109.12 metres (358 ft) (smaller)

The Pyramid of Djoser (Zoser), or step pyramid (kbhw-ntrw in Egyptian) is an archeological remain in the Saqqara necropolis, Egypt, northwest of the city of Memphis. It was built for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by hisvizier Imhotep, during the 27th century BC. It is the central feature of a vastmortuary complex in an enormous courtyard surrounded by ceremonial structures and decoration.

This first Egyptian pyramid consisted of six mastabas (of decreasing size) built atop one another in what were clearly revisions and developments of the original plan. The pyramid originally stood 62 metres (203 ft) tall, with a base of 109 × 125 m (358 × 410 ft) and was clad in polished white limestone. The step pyramid (or proto-pyramid) is considered to be the earliest large-scale cut stone construction, although the nearby enclosure known as Gisr el-mudir would seem to predate the complex. The oldest known uncut stone pyramid structure dates to 3000 BC in the city of Caral,Peru.

Step Pyramid of Zoser - North Saqqara, Nile Valley


Djoser was the first or second king of the 3rd Dynasty (ca. 2667 to 2648 BC) of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (ca. 2686 to 2125 BC).He is believed to have ruled for 19 years or, if the 19 years were biennial taxation years, 38 years[6]. He reigned long enough to allow the grandiose plan for his pyramid to be realized in his lifetime.


Djoser is best known for his innovative tomb, which dominates the Saqqara landscape. In this tomb he is referred to by his Horus name Netjerykhet; Djoser is a name given by New Kingdom visitors thousands of years later. Djoser’s step pyramid is astounding in its departure from previous architecture. It sets several important precedents, perhaps the most important of which is its status as the first monumental structure made of stone. The social implications of such a large and carefully sculpted stone structure are staggering. The process of building such a structure would be far more labor intensive than previous monuments of mud-brick. This suggests that the state, and therefore the royal government had a new level of control of resources, both material and human.Also, from this point on, kings of the Old Kingdom are buried in the North, rather than at Abydos. Furthermore, although the plan of Djoser’s pyramid complex is different than later complexes, many elements persist and the step pyramid sets the stage for later pyramids of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Dynasties, including the great pyramids at Giza. Finally, another intriguing first is the identification of the architect Imhotep, who is credited with the design and construction of the complex.


Djoser’s Pyramid draws ideas from several precedents. The most relevant precedent is found at Saqqara mastaba 3038. The substructure lay in a 4m deep rectangular pit, and had mudbrick walls rising to 6m. Three sides were extended and built out to create eight shallow steps rising at an angle of 49˚. This would have been an elongated step pyramid if the remaining side had not been left uncovered. In another parallel to Djoser’s complex, to complete this mastaba complex a niched enclosure wall was erected. Furthermore, the pyramid substructure is reminiscent of the plan of Khasekhemwy’s mud-brick funerary enclosure at Abydos.

Comparison of approximate profiles of some pyramidal or near-pyramidal buildings. Where the base is an oblong, the longer side is shown. Dotted lines indicate original heights, where data is available.


File:Temples at Festival complex.JPG

Temples of the festival complex.

Djoser’s Step Pyramid complex has several structures pivotal to its function in both life and the afterlife. Several are discussed below with attention paid to function and form. The pyramid was not simply a grave in ancient Egypt. Its purpose was to facilitate a successful afterlife for the king so that he could be eternally reborn. The symbolism of the step pyramid form, which did not survive the 3rd Dynasty, is unknown, but it has been suggested that it may be a monumental symbol of the crown, especially the royal mortuary cult, since seven small step pyramids (not tombs) were built in the provinces. Another well accepted theory is that it facilitated the king’s ascension to join the eternal North Star.

The main excavator of the Step Pyramid was Jean-Phillipe Lauer, a French architect who reconstructed key portions of the complex[2]. The complex covers 15ha and is about 2.5 times as large as the Old Kingdom town of Heirakonpolis. Several features of the complex differ from those of later Old Kingdom pyramids. The pyramid temple is situated at the north side of the pyramid, whereas in later pyramids it is on the east side. Also, the Djoser complex is built on a North-South axis whereas later complexes utilize an East-West axis. Furthermore, the Djoser complex has one niched enclosure wall, whereas later pyramids have two enclosure walls with the outside one being smooth and the inside one sometimes niched.

Bas-Relief from the Tomb of Tiy 1200-1085 B.C. Egyptian Art Saqqara, Egypt

The Enclosure Wall

The Djoser complex is surrounded by a wall of light Tura limestone 10.5m high.The wall design recalls the appearance of 1st Dynasty tombs, with the distinctive paneled construction known as the palace façade, which imitates bound bundles of reeds. The overall structure imitates mudbrick. The wall is interrupted by 14 doors, however only one entrance, in the south corner of the east façade, is functional for the living. This arrangement resembles Early Dynastic funerary enclosures at Abydos in which the entrance was on the east side.The remaining doors are known as false doors, and were meant for the king’s use in the afterlife. They functioned as portals through which the king’s ka could pass between life and the afterlife. The functional door at the southeast end of the complex leads to a narrow passageway that connects to the roofed colonnade.

Saqqara step pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt,Africa

The Great Trench

Outside the enclosure wall Djoser’s complex is completely surrounded by a trench dug in the underlying rock. The trench measures 750m long and 40m wide and is a rectangle on a North-South axis. The walls of the trench were originally decorated with niches and its function seems to have been to make entry into the complex more difficult.

Roofed colonnade entrance

File:Saqqara - Pyramid of Djoser - Mortuary temple - Hypostyle hall .JPG

Roofed colonnade corridor leading into the complex, with stone pillars carved to imitate bundled plant stems.

The roofed colonnade led from the enclosure wall to the south of the complex. A passageway with a limestone ceiling constructed to look as though it was made from whole tree trunks led to a massive stone imitation of two open doors. Beyond this portal was a hall with twenty pairs of limestone columns composed of drum shaped segments built to look like bundles of plant stems and reaching a height of 6.6 m. The columns were not free-standing, but were attached to the wall by masonry projections. Between the columns on both sides of the hall were small chambers, which some Egyptologists propose may have been for each of the provinces of Upper and Lower Egypt. At the end of the colonnade was the transverse hypostyle room with eight columns connected in pairs by blocks of limestone. This led to the South Court.

egypt, saqqara, the mastaba of mereruka

The South Court

The South Court is a large court between the South Tomb and the pyramid. Within the court are curved stones thought to be territorial markers associated with theHeb-sed festival, an important ritual completed by Egyptian kings (typically after 30 years on the throne) to renew their powers. These would have allowed Djoser to claim control over all of Egypt, while its presence in the funerary complex would allow Djoser to continue to benefit from the ritual in the afterlife. At the southern end of the court was a platform approached by steps. It has been suggested that this was a platform for the double throne. This fits in to the theory proposed by Barry Kemp, and generally accepted by many, that suggests the whole step pyramid complex symbolizes the royal palace enclosure and allows the king to eternally perform the rituals associated with kingship. At the very south of the South Court lay the South Tomb.

Egypt, Lower Egypt, Saqqara, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, engraved stele in the necropolis

The South Tomb

The South Tomb has been likened to the satellite pyramids of later Dynasties, and has been proposed to house the ka in the afterlife. Another proposal is that it may have held the canopic jar with the king’s organs, but this does not follow later trends where the canopic jar is found in the same place as the body. These proposals stem from the fact that the granite burial vault is much too small to have facilitated an actual burial.

Egyptian Civilization. Tomb of Netcherouymes. Detail of bas-reliefs from Saqqara

The substructure of the South Tomb is entered through a tunnel-like corridor with a staircase that descends about 30m before opening up into the pink granite burial chamber. The staircase then continues west and leads to a gallery that imitates the blue chambers below the step pyramid.

Egypt – Cairo – Ancient Memphis (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1979). Saqqara. Necropolis. Private funerary

Current evidence suggests that the South Tomb was finished before the pyramid. The symbolic king’s inner palace, decorated in blue faience, is much more complete than that of the pyramid. Three chambers of this substructure are decorated in blue faience to imitate reed-mat facades, just like the pyramid. One room is decorated with three finely niche reliefs of the king, one depicting him running the Heb-sed. Importantly, Egyptian builders chose to employ their most skilled artisans and depict their finest art in the darkest, most inaccessible place in the complex. This highlights the fact that this impressive craftsmanship was not meant for the benefit of the living but was meant to ensure the king had all the tools necessary for a successful afterlife

africa, egypt, saqqara, mastaba of ptamotec

The Step Pyramid

Egypt Sakkara Saqqara pyramid step pyramid de…

The superstructure of the Step Pyramid is six steps and was built in six stages, as might be expected with an experimental structure.[9] The pyramid began as a square mastaba (one should note that this designation as a mastaba is contended for several reasons) (M1) which was gradually enlarged, first evenly on all four sides (M2) and later just on the east side (M3). The mastaba was built up in two stages, first to form a four-stepped structure (P1) and then to form a six-stepped structure (P2), which now had a rectangular base on an east-west axis. The fact that the initial mastaba was square has led many to believe that the monument was never meant to be a mastaba, as no other known mastabas had ever been square. The final pyramid was 62m tall and 1221 square meters in area. When the builders began to transform the mastaba into the four step pyramid, they made a major shift in construction Like in the construction of the mastaba, they built a crude core of rough stones and then cased them in fine limestone with packing in between. The major difference is that in mastaba construction they laid horizontal courses, but for the pyramid layers, they built in accretion layers that leaned inwards, while using blocks that were both bigger and higher quality.Much of the rock for the pyramid was likely quarried from the construction of the great trench. It is widely accepted that ramps would have been used to raise heavy stone to construct the pyramid, and many plausible models have been suggested.Apparatuses like rollers in which the heavy stone could be placed and then rolled were employed in transport.

Egypt, Lower Egypt, Saqqara Necropolis, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO,

Pyramid Substructure

Under the step pyramid is a labyrinth of tunneled chambers and galleries that total nearly 6 km in length and connect to a central shaft 7m square and 28m deep. These spaces provide room for the king’s burial, the burial of family members, and the storage of goods and offerings.The entrance to the 28m shaft was built on the north side of the pyramid, a trend that would remain throughout the Old Kingdom. The sides of the underground passages are limestone inlaid with blue faience tile to replicate reed matting. These “palace façade” walls are further decorated by panels decorated in low relief that show the king participating in the Heb-sed. Together these chambers constitute the funerary apartment that mimicked the palace and would serve as the living place of the royal ka. On the east side of the pyramid eleven shafts 32m deep were constructed and annexed to horizontal tunnels for the royal harem (The existence of this “harem” is debated). These were incorporated into the preexisting substructure as it expanded eastward. In the storerooms along here over 40,000 stone vessels were found, many of which predate Djoser. These would have served Djoser’s visceral needs in the afterlife. An extensive network of underground galleries was located to the north, west and south of the central burial chamber and crude horizontal magazines were carved into these.

Relief. Egyptian Ruins. Saqqara. Egypt

The Burial Chamber

The burial chamber was a vault constructed of four courses of well-dressed granite. It had one opening, which was sealed with a 3.5 ton block after the burial. No body was recovered as the tomb had been extensively robbed. Lauer believes that a burial chamber of alabaster existed before the one of granite. He found interesting evidence of limestone blocks with five pointed stars in low relief that were likely on the ceiling, indicating the first occurrence of what would become a tradition. The king sought to associate himself with the eternal North Stars that never set so as to ensure his rebirth and eternity.

Egypt – Cairo – Ancient Memphis (UNESCO World Heritage List, 1979). Saqqara. Necropolis. Private funerary mastaba of Ptahhotep, 5th Dynasty. Relief of agricultural works and ox

© De Agostini / SuperStock 

The North Temple and Serdab Court

The northern (funerary/mortuary) temple was on the north side of the pyramid and faced the north stars, which the king wished to join in eternity. This structure provided a place in which the daily rituals and offerings to the dead could be performed, and was the cult center for the king. To the east of the temple is the serdab, which is a small enclosed structure that housed the ka statue. The king’s ka inhabited the ka statue in order to benefit from daily ceremonies like the opening of the mouth, a ceremony that allowed him to breathe and eat, and the burning of incense.

Egypt, Saqqara, Painting in Mastaba of Mereruka

© Silvio Fiore / SuperStock 

He witnessed these ceremonies through two small eye holes cut in the north wall of the serdab. This temple appears on the north side of the pyramid throughout the Third Dynasty, as the king wishes to go north to become one of the eternal stars in the North Sky that never set. In the fourth Dynasty, when there is a religious shift to an emphasis on rebirth and eternity achieved through the sun, the temple is moved to the east side of the temple where the sun rises, so that through association the king may be reborn every day.

Saqqara, Egypt

© LatitudeStock / SuperStock

The Heb-sed Court

The Heb-sed courtyard is rectangular and parallel to the South Courtyard. It was meant to provide a space in which the king could perform the Heb-sed ritual in the afterlife. Flanking the east and west sides of the court are the remains of two groups of chapels, many of which are dummy buildings, of three different architectural styles. At the north and south ends there are three chapels with flat roves and no columns. The remaining chapels on the west side are decorated with fluted columns and capitals flanked by leaves. Each of the chapels has a sanctuary accessed by a roofless passage with walls that depict false doors and latches.Some of these buildings have niches for statues. Egyptologists believe that these buildings were related to the important double coronation of the king during the Heb-sed.

Sphinx at Giza Looking Towards Pyramids of Saqqara by William Holman Hunt, painting, (1827-1910), UK, Preston, Harris Museum and Art Gallery
© SuperStock / SuperStock 

M-Class solar flare M9.3 earth bound – Volcano / Earthquake Watch July 30-Aug 4 , 2011

M-Class solar flare M9.3 earth bound – Volcano / Earthquake Watch July 30-Aug 4 , 2011

Three large sunspots emerging on the sun’s eastern limb could produce more significant solar flares in the coming days. Active region 11260 is the most active, producing at least twelve C-class flares the last 24 hours and an M1.1 class flare in the late hours of July 27. This new activity more than doubling the total for the entire month of July so far. New active region 11262, however, could eventually cause more trouble. Magnetograms of the active region reveal a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful X-class eruptions.
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Sunspot 1260 has developed a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful X-class solar flares an eruption would be Earth-directed. Elenin starts its pass by Sun could increase the chance for an X-Class

Impacts will be on satellite communication, and there is also an associated earthquake threat ..

July 30, 2011

STRONG FLARE: AR11261 unleashed a brief but strong M9-class solar flare on July 30th at 0209 UT. Because of its brevity, the eruption probably did not hurl a substantial CME toward Earth, but this is not yet a firm conclusion

Three big sunspot groups are rotating across the Earth-facing side of the sun. One of them, AR1261, is morphing into a circular ring. The magnetic field of this shape-shifting sunspot is crackling with C- and M-class solar flares, including a powerful M9-blast to begin the day on July 30th. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of more such flares during the next 24 hours.

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Targeting Coronal Hole (CH468) which could produce two significant earthquakes over 6.6 in magnitude.
First region is plotted to 27-34° North Latitude
Possible regions that could be at risk for a significant earthquake are:
Bonin Islands Japan, Izu Islands Japan, Sichuan China, Western Turkey

Or a possible volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands(La Palma / Hierro)

Related Article: CUMBRE VIEJA VOLCANO Palma Canary Islands

Second region plotted to 35-38° North Latitude.
Possible locations that could be at risk for a significant earthquake Aug 2-4 are :
Honshu-Japan or Central/Northern California-America

OLR anomaly indicates Papua New Guinea could receive a significant earthquake during this watch period

Two other regions that could recieve a smaller event
(5.5M) are Vancouver Island-Canada or the Sandwich Islands region

Source and author: SolarWatcher * thebarcaroller *  dutchsinse (youtube)

Chimps vs. Humans: How Are We Different?

Chimps vs. Humans: How Are We Different?

By Natalie Wolchover, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer
29 July 2011 9:52 AM ET

There are many profound differences between humans and chimps. Credit: Dreamstime

“Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.”

That’s the longest string of words that Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee who scientists raised as a human and taught sign language in the 1970s, ever signed. He was the subject of Project Nim, an experiment conducted by cognitive scientists at Columbia University to investigate whether chimps can learn language.

After years of exposing Nim to all things human, the researchers concluded that although he did learn to express demands — the desire for an orange, for instance — and knew 125 words, he couldn’t fully grasp language, at least as they defined it. Language requires not just vocabulary but also syntax, they argued. “Give orange me,” for example, means something different than “give me orange.” From a very young age, humans understand that; we have an innate ability to create new meanings by combining and ordering words in diverse ways. Nim had no such capacity, which is presumably true for all chimps.

Many cognitive scientists believe that humans’ ability to innovate by varying syntax engenders much of the richness and complexity of our thoughts and ideas. This gulf between humans and our nearest primate relatives is but one of many.


Humans are bipedal, and except for short bouts of uprightness, great apes walk on all fours. It’s a profound disparity.

Kevin Hunt, director of the Human Origins and Primate Evolution Lab at Indiana University, thinks humans’ ancestors stood upright in order to reach vegetation in low-hanging tree branches. “When Africa started getting drier about 6.5 million years ago, our ancestors were stuck in the east part, where the habitat became driest,” Hunt told Life’s Little Mysteries. “Trees in dry habitats are shorter and different than trees in forests: In those dry habitats, if you stand up next to a 6-foot-tall tree, you can reach food. In the forest if you stand up, you’re 2 feet closer to a tree that’s 100 feet tall and it doesn’t do you the least bit of good.” [Read: ‘Gorilla Walks Like A Man’ Video Explained]

Thus, our ancestors stood up in the scrubby, dry areas of Africa. Chimps in the forests did not.

Charles Darwin was the first to figure it out why the simple act of standing up made all the difference in separating man from ape. One word: tools. “Once we became bipedal, we had hands to carry tools around. We started doing that only 1.5 million years after we became bipedal,” Hunt explained. Give it a couple million years and we turned those chipped stones into iPads. [Read: Why Haven’t All Primates Evolved into Humans?]


According to Hunt, if you shave a chimp and take a photo of its body from the neck to the waist, “at first glance you wouldn’t really notice that it isn’t human.” The two species’ musculature is extremely similar, but somehow, pound-for-pound, chimps are between two and three times stronger than humans. “Even if we worked out for 12 hours a day like they do, we wouldn’t be nearly as strong,” Hunt said.

Once, in an African forest, Hunt watched an 85-pound female chimp snap branches off an aptly-named ironwood tree with her fingertips. It took Hunt two hands and all the strength he could muster to snap an equally thick branch.

No one knows where chimps get all that extra power. “Some of their muscle arrangement is different — the attachment points of their muscles are arranged for power rather than speed,” Hunt said. “It may be that that’s all there is to it, but those who study chimp anatomy are shocked that they can get that much more power out of subtle changes in muscle attachment points.” [Read: Planet of the Apes: Can Chimps Really Shoot Guns?]

Alternatively, their muscle fibers may be denser, or there may be physiochemical advantages in the way they contract. Whatever the case may be, the outcome is clear: “If a chimp throws a big rock and you go over and try to throw it, you just can’t,” Hunt said.


Herb Terrace, the primate cognition scientist who led Project Nim, thinks chimps lack a “theory of mind”: They cannot infer the mental state of another individual, whether they are happy, sad, angry, interested in some goal, in love, jealous or otherwise. Though chimps are very proficient at reading body language, Terrace explained, they cannot contemplate another being’s state of mind when there is no body language. “I believe that a theory of mind was the big breakthrough by our ancestors,” he wrote in an email.

Why does he think that? It goes back to Nim the signing chimp’s linguistic skills. Like an infant human, Nim spoke in “imperative mode,” demanding things he wanted. But infantile demands aren’t really the hallmark of language. As humans grow older, unlike chimps, we develop a much richer form of communication: “declarative mode.”

“Declarative language is based on conversational exchanges between a speaker and a listener for the purpose of exchanging information,” Terrace wrote. “It is maintained by secondary rewards such as ‘thank you,’ ‘that’s very interesting,’ ‘glad you mentioned that.’ In the case of declarative language, a theory of mind is clearly necessary. If the speaker and the listener could not assume that their conversational partners had a theory of mind there would be no reason for them to talk to each other. Why bother if there is no expectation that your audience would understand what you said?”

He added, “I know of no example of a conversation by non-human animals.”


The chimpanzee genome was sequenced for the first time in 2005. It was found to differ from thehuman genome with which it was compared, nucleotide-for-nucleotide, by about 1.23 percent. This amounts to about 40 million differences in our DNA, half of which likely resulted from mutations in the human ancestral line and half in the chimp line since the two species diverged. [Read: How Many Genetic Mutations Do I Have?]

From those mutations come the dramatic differences in the species that we see today — differences in intelligence, anatomy, lifestyle and, not least, success at colonizing the planet.

Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyoverFollow Life’s Little Mysteries on Twitter @llmysteries, then join us on Facebook.

Loch A’an – High Wind and Tent Failure

Loch A’an – High Wind and Tent Failure

Thanks to Fraser for the Wondeful Images and Story (Yappy)

TarpTent Contrail in happier times

Outdoor pursuits had not got off to the best of starts this week. I managed to fall off the bike midweek in Blairadam Forest, due to looking at where my front wheel was going rather than where I actually wanted it to go. This was closely followed by a chain snappage, on-trail repair and hasty retreat home for a beer. A window of opportunity presented itself for a weekend overnighter, since taking a new job in May, such events have been rare – so best seize it!

Lone pine in Glen Derry

My old favourite, the Cairngorms were the destination. I had a vague plan to camp at the end of Glen Derry somewhere. I love this part of the Scotland. The free-draining grit underfoot, the Scots pines, the wide open spaces and remoteness. The journey up past Glenshee to Braemar and Linn of Dee feels like a journey – a great road especially in great weather. Under blue skies, the Cairngorms can feel un-Scottish, almost North American maybe?

I cycled up to Derry Lodge and left the bike. There were plenty of folk around and a fair number of tents too. Onward up Glen Derry, I was thinking of pitching up above Loch Etchachan, near a spot I’d enjoyed a couple of years ago. Despite the sun, the wind was pretty strong even down in the glen, and when I bumped into an Aberdonian coming back from Derry Cairngorm, he confirmed it was even worse up high. Two pairs of mountain bikers descending back down the glen were at least now enjoying the tailwind, having fought their way into the wind on their outward route.

I reached the end of the glen and swung north-west, into the pass between Derry Cairngorm and Beinn Mheahoin, climbing up toward the Hutchison Memorial Hut. I passed a group of three overdressed walkers coming the other way. Further up, the penny dropped, they’d been repairing the path, hence the PU coated waterproofs rather than bling brand names. They’ve put in a fair amount of drainage channels, but the path has not yet had enough traffic to be fully compacted.

The Hutchison Memorial Hut and Creagan a’ Choire Etchachan

I stuck my head into the bothy, to be confronted by a combination of musty/fresh paint smell, a note from the MBA confirmed they’d spruced the place up just last week. It’s now slightly less hovel-like than last time I visited. I briefly considered sleeping here, given the wind. But I hadn’t walked all the way up the glen to sleep indoors. I had a bit to eat and pressed on, up to Loch Etchachan. The wind was still strong, so I decided to carry on, dropping down steeply to Loch A’an. I hadn’t been this far before, but was struck by the green tinge to the water and the sandy shores. Unfortunately I could see there were a few tents dotted around. I wanted the place to myself, but wasn’t prepared to spend the night anywhere else, it’s an awesome spot, with high crags all around and waterfalls crashing down off the mountain. I’d just have to share. It occurred to me that I’d be testing the limits of the Contrail in this wind.

Loch A’an – You don’t really get a sense of scale here. There are two tents and a person on the sand/beach by the inlet on the left

Losing altitude the wind dropped a bit. The path down is steep and loose. I could see figures leaping from boulder to boulder, over by the famous Shelter Stone. It was inhabited too. I picked a spot equidistant from the other tents. Imagine the horror of someone pitching up right next to you way out here.  I was in a spot below the shelter stone and was afforded some shelter of my own by a giant boulder. I tried to imagine the sort of force required to deposit such a sizeable chunk of geology in it’s current position, either through glaciation, or snapping off the crags above and thundering downhill into the basin. I imagined the splat such a thing landing on my Contrail in the night would make. Cheery thoughts.

I got fed and wandered about, taking photos and occasionally eyeing the Contrail to see if it was still standing. The wind had picked up again and was making any attempts at long exposures futile. The Contrail seemed to be doing okay, a wee bit flappy, but okay. I crawled into my sleeping bag, stuck the earplugs in and fell asleep.

The crags above the Shelter Stone with Garbh Uisge and Feith Buidhe burn cascading down the mountain beyond. A couple of patches of snow clung to the deepest recesses in the rock.

I must’ve had around an hour or two sleep before waking with the tent half collapsed on top of me. The wind had upped it’s game. It was getting nasty. I assumed a peg had come out and jumped out to sort it. The wind had been changing direction regularly. The Contrail should have been end to the wind, but was getting blasted broadside. By this point it was dark, I was pleased to have kept my socks and goretex oversocks on in the sleeping bag, meaning I could jump straight out onto the soggy ground.

The Y-pegs were fine, they held tight, even in the soft ground. The adjustable peg point had come loose, I re-tensioned it and the others and was about to go back inside, when I noticed my walking pole sticking through the fabric at the door. It had jumped out of the metal grommet during the flapping and had gone straight through the silnylon. Bollocks. I reseated it and went back inside. If it rained, there would be some dampness in the porch, not a big deal.

Half an hour or so later, I was struggling to get back to sleep, when the pegging point gave again. I reluctantly decide to strike, pack up and make a night hike back to the Hutchison Hut. It probably says a lot about me that I didn’t really consider crashing the Shelter Stone. I’d rather just hike back over the bealach to the [hopefully deserted] bothy.

I’d only brought my Black Diamond Ion headtorch, which is fine for around camp, but has limited range. I immediately realised that I didn’t have an accurate mental picture of how to get back out. The number of criss-crossing paths on the lower slopes confused matters further. I’d have to pick my way out, up through steep/loose terrain, 2 metres at a time, as dictated by the reach of my headtorch. It was burning on the low output, wary of running down the battery before I’d safely made it to the bothy. It’s safe to say I was a bit anxious at this point, especially with the wind ripping at my pack and twisting me off balance. It was a battle to stay on course, and I was glad of the poles to help me balance and brace against the stronger gusts. Slowly I noted one familiar feature on the ground after another, I just had to keep finding them all the way back to the bothy.

There was a bit of relief as the gradient eased and I made the top of the bealach, although I was well aware that I still had to pick my way through the stream/bog/path past Loch Etchachan, the trails petered out a few times. To make matters worse, the cloud had come down, making the output from the headtorch into a ghostly fog, obscuring features from the terrain ahead. I shut it off once or twice to get my bearings and pick out my position relative to the loch. Those gritty Cairngorm trails glow nicely under torchlight, offering a bit of reassurance underfoot. If the trails had been muddier, routefinding would have been more problematic. I may have had to shelter by a rock until dawn allowed my to see where I was going. I was also lucky in that the rain stayed off, there was some drizzle, but nothing significant. I made the outflow on Loch Etchachan and rock hopped precariously to the other side. Another obstacle cleared. The worst was over. Now back down on the new path to the relative comfort of the Hutchison hut. I remember giving thanks to whoever had the foresight to wrap the bothy porch with reflective tape. Inside, I checked the time, 0300, it would be getting light in a couple of hours. I’d made it back without needing to take a bearing or check the map. Time for some shut-eye.

Stacan Dubha at dusk

I woke in the morning to the wind ripping at the bothy roof. No let up then. Outside the window I could see clear skies. I decided I didn’t fancy following my proposed route up Derry Cairngorm and back to Derry Lodge. Anyone who’s been on the bouldery summit of Derry Cairngorm knows there’s plenty of potential for a leg break up there. One big gust at the wrong moment…

No doubt the views from the summit would have been outstanding, but the conditions put me off, I’d pushed my luck enough for one weekend. I retraced my steps back down Glen Derry, the wind dropped as I reached the shelter of the trees near Derry Lodge and it was warm in the sun. I enjoyed the walk by the river, through the pines and stopped for lunch at the footbridge over Derry Burn. A short blast on the bike to the car at Linn of Dee left me with a feeling the trip was over too soon, despite my uncomfortable night hike. The wind had become a light breeze by Braemar and the prospect of a late afternoon spent in the garden with a beer wasn’t so bad.

In the bothy

Post Mortem

This is the first time I’ve ever found myself in a ‘situation’ in the hills. One entirely of my own creation, stemming from the decision to leave my Akto at home and take the Contrail instead, despite having seen the forecast beforehand. This sort of gung-ho attitude is not something I’d ever entertain in winter. In summer, you’ll get wet and cold maybe. But in winter you’d get dead.

Loch A’an is about as remote as you can get in the Cairngorms, so you’re a good distance from help, should you need it. But in summer at least, there are a reasonable amount of people around too. If I’d been really desperate, I’d have gatecrashed the Shelter Stone. I think I also spotted a smaller, less enclosed shelter nearby that someone has constructed under a large boulder, presumably when there was no room at the Shelter Stone.

I’m reasonably pleased with my response to the situation, I extracted myself without much fuss. Lessons to be learned: MWIS should be obeyed. And if you’re going to push your luck, do it somewhere you’re more familiar with. I knew the trails as far as Loch Etchachan, but the last section over to Loch A’an was new to me, meaning I didn’t have absolute confidence in finding the right trail back to the bothy in the dark.

Update: To put all this into perspective, there’s an interesting article describing the Cairngorm Disaster of 1971 written by RAF Sqn Ldr Bill Campbell here which happened around the same area.

Thoughts on Kit
I pushed the Contrail beyond it’s design parameters, I can’t blame Henry Shires for that. It’s still usable, despite the hole. But only for low level pitches in good conditions. Time for a TrailStar? There is a large amount of material in the Contrail, if anyone can think of a MYOG project that could use the fabric, you’re welcome to it, leave a comment. Lots of silnylon stuff bags maybe?

My Fizan poles were great [apart from puncturing my shelter]. The security and stability offered when climbing the loose, steep ground up to the bealach in high wind was most welcome.

My BD Ion was the star of the show. The £15 headtorch was just powerful enough to get me back to the bothy. Either of my Petzls would have been preferable, the XP2 would have illuminated much further ahead, which would have inspired confidence in my route finding skills. But without the Ion, I’d have be sat shivering under a rock until dawn. Given my reliance on it this trip, at 28g, maybe it’s time to start carrying it as a backup throughout winter.

Which of these fake monsters could fool you?

By Annalee Newitz

Which of these fake monsters could fool you?


Which of these fake monsters could fool you?

All summer, io9 is offering a bounty to anyone who can find a genuine cryptid, or mystery animal. But to keep you amused in the meantime, we’re doing a contest for who can create the best fake cryptid.

We’ve gotten some pretty funny entries so far, some of which might even be convincing. Would any of these make you cry cryptid?

Here’s a batch of submissions that amused us — and in one case, kind of creeped us out.

Gator Boy (pictured above)
Creator William says:

The Gator-Boy was made predominantly with latex and cotton…

Points for: Sheer goofiness and fun. Plus, we always love practical effects.


Which of these fake monsters could fool you?
Creator Collin writes:

The Sharkaphant was made using a mixture of googled images, Photoshop CS3, and time my employer wasn’t quite aware of.

Points for: Old-timey look. Plus, sharks are always mating with elephants – everybody knows that.

The Slender Man

Which of these fake monsters could fool you?
Creator Dan says this image was made with Photoshop CS5.
Points for: Loving old memes and recreating the fuzzy look in so many famous cryptid photos. Plus, there is something genuinely creepy about this image.


Which of these fake monsters could fool you?
Creator Dennis says:

Made by some tinkering with the grand old Photoshop. Combining a picture of a lizard and a dragonfly, then adding the red.

Points for: Making it look pretty, and playing on people’s natural tendency to think all insects are cryptids.


Which of these fake monsters could fool you?
Creator Lew says:

Re-proportioned a photo of a gorilla in photoshop and put it in a new background.

Points for: Sticking to the classics.

Got a great fake cryptid picture lying around? You have a few more days to enter our contest and win enduring internet fame!

Send an email to, with the subject line FAKE CRYPTID. If you don’t have that in the subject line, we will ignore your submission!

Attach your photo(s) or video to the email, and include the following information:

1. Your full name
2. What the picture is of
3. How you made it
4. A good way to contact you online so we can let you know if you’ve won

Again, without this information, we will ignore your submission. So please include it!

Deadline is July 31, at midnight Pacific Time.

And don’t forget our real cryptid bounty . . .

Which of these fake monsters could fool you?

io9 Offers $2000 Bounty For Authentic Photos Of Cryptids

This summer, io9 is going cryptozoological. We’re offering a $2000 bounty to the person who sends us the best authentic photo or video of a “cryptid,” or mystery animal. And that’s just the beginning of Cryptid Summer. More »

How Astronomers May Hunt for Life on Alien Planets

How Astronomers May Hunt for Life on Alien Planets

Charles Q. Choi, Astrobiology Magazine Contributor
Date: 28 July 2011 Time: 07:00 AM ET
Measuring Exoplanets' Chemical Signatures
This chart explains how astronomers measure the signatures of chemicals in the atmospheres of exoplanets.

Any sulfurous molecules that astronomers spot on alien worlds might be a way to reveal whether or not those distant planets host life, researchers suggest.

On Earth, microbes can live off the energy available in sulfurous molecules that volcanoes release, essentially “breathing” these compounds the way humans breathe oxygen. If a similar kind of metabolism evolved on an extrasolar planet, the sulfurous molecules detected in the atmosphere of that world might help reveal the presence of alien life, said researcher Renyu Hu, a doctoral student in planetary science at MIT.

Volcanoes on Earth can release huge amounts of hydrogen sulfide and other gases into the atmosphere.

To see what telltale signs any sulfur-dependent life might generate, Hu and his colleagues modeled Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars — that is, areas where worlds could  have liquid water on their surfaces. These simulated planets possessed nitrogen-based atmospheres like Earth but 1,000 times more sulfur.

Sulfur-dependent life on Earth releases hydrogen sulfide as waste. The researchers found these microbes could increase hydrogen sulfide levels by nearly 10 times what they would be on a planet without such life. [Graphic: Sky Full of Alien Planets]

From interstellar distances, it would be hard to distinguish hydrogen sulfide (H2S) from water (H2O) on the surfaces of exoplanets. However, the researchers calculate that extra atmospheric hydrogen sulfide would in turn cause more pure sulfur aerosols to form in the air, which astronomers could detect based on their distinctive spectra or fingerprint in the visible and infrared wavelengths.

“Hydrogen sulfide emissions from the surface would have a large impact on the atmospheric composition of a planet,” Hu said.

Habitable zones for different star types. Our solar system is used for comparison.
CREDIT: Astrobiology Magazine

Still, no Earth-sized planets have been discovered yet in the habitable zones of sun-like stars. “Characterization of the atmospheres of exoplanets has been confined to close-in planets so far,” Hu said.

Also, Hu cautioned that hydrogen sulfide is not a conclusive signature of life. “We need to test our assumptions thoroughly,” he said. “It may be, for instance, that volcanism could produce tremendous amounts of that gas.”

Hydrogen sulfide is not the only biosignature gas the researchers are investigating.

“We want to study as many as possible — look at many, many gases in Earth’s atmosphere and see if they can be biosignatures as well,” Hu said.

Hu, with his colleagues Sara Seager and William Baines, detailed their findings May 26 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston.

This story was provided by Astrobiology Magazine, a web-based publication sponsored by the NASAastrobiology program.