11 pre-Hispanic bodies found at Peru sports center


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11 pre-Hispanic bodies found at Peru sports center

Published: February 26, 2013

By CARLA SALAZAR — Associated Press

Peru Archeology

An excavated skull and artifacts lay unearthed at the sports complex where Peru’s national soccer team practices in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. According to Peru’s Ministry of Culture, 11 pre-Inca tombs belonging to the Lima culture (200-700 AD) and Yschma (1100-1400 AD) were located inside the sports complex in the district of San Luis, where excavations started in Dec. 2012.

Martin Mejia — AP Photo

LIMA, PERU — Archaeologists studying a small site at Peru’s main sports center have dug up eight skeletons dating from at least 700 years ago and three others twice that old.

The discovery of pre-Hispanic remains was made at the Huaca Tupac Amaru B site at the National Sports Village. The 400-square-meter (yard) site sits just a few meters (feet) from the stadium where Peru’s national soccer team trains.

Archaeologist Fernando Herrera, head of the project, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that three sets of remains were determined to belong to the Lima culture, which developed between A.D. 200 and 700. The eight other skeletons came from the more recent Yschma culture, between A.D. 1000 and 1400, he said.

A skeleton lays unearthed in a recently excavated tomb in the sports complex where Peru’s national soccer team practices in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. According to Peru’s Ministry of Culture, 11 pre-Inca tombs belonging to the Lima culture (200-700 AD) and Yschma (1100-1400 AD) were located inside the sports complex in the district of San Luis, where excavations started in Dec. 2012. MARTIN MEJIA — AP Photo

A skeleton lays unearthed in a recently excavated tomb in the sports complex where Peru’s national soccer team practices in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. According to Peru’s Ministry of Culture, 11 pre-Inca tombs belonging to the Lima culture (200-700 AD) and Yschma (1100-1400 AD) were located inside the sports complex in the district of San Luis, where excavations started in Dec. 2012. MARTIN MEJIA — AP Photo

Each skeleton was found lying on a bed of woven reeds. The bodies were tied with braided rattan and covered by one or more cloths. They were buried with ceramics, textiles, fruit tree leaves, and tools used for agriculture, he said.

Herrera said the first skeleton was found in December and the others were recovered in January. The archaeological team thinks there may be more and is still searching the site, he said.

There are many archaeological sites in Lima, including the Huaca Pucllana in the Miraflores residential district that has a towering Lima culture pyramid.

Luis Felipa Villacorta, an archaeologist and historian who is director of the private Antonio Raimondi museum, said the find at the sports center will add to “the mosaic and image of the Lima culture that is very diffuse” compared to the Nazca and Moche civilizations that developed simultaneously in other parts of the coast of what is now Peru.

Unfortunately not much is known of the Lima culture, he said, partly “because the city, the capital, has grown over it.” In addition, there has been more interest in the “pre-Hispanic cultures that are outside the metropolitan area:

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Treasure-Filled Warrior’s Grave Found in Russia


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Treasure-Filled Warrior’s Grave Found in Russia

Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 20 February 2013 Time: 01:36 PM ET
The burial of the warrior was richly adorned and contained more than a dozen gold artifacts. This fibula-brooch, despite being only 2.3 by 1.9 inches in size, contains intricate decorations leading towardthe center where a rock crystal bead is mounted.
CREDIT: Photo courtesy Valentina Mordvintseva 

Hidden in a necropolis situated high in the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, researchers have discovered the grave of a male warrior laid to rest with gold jewelry, iron chain mail and numerous weapons, including a 36-inch (91 centimeters) iron sword set between his legs.

That is just one amazing find among a wealth of ancient treasures dating back more than 2,000 years that scientists have uncovered there.

Among their finds are two bronze helmets, discovered on the surface of the necropolis. One helmet (found in fragments and restored) has relief carvings of curled sheep horns while the other has ridges, zigzags and other odd shapes.

Although looters had been through the necropolis before, the warrior’s grave appears to have been untouched. The tip of the sword he was buried with points toward his pelvis, and researchers found “a round gold plaque with a polychrome inlay” near the tip, they write in a paper published in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia. [See Images of the Warrior Burial and Artifacts]

burial of male warrior in Caucasus

The grave of a male warrior who was laid to rest some 2,200 years ago in what is now the mountains of the Caucasus in Russia, shown here in a diagram of the warrior’s skeleton and numerous artifacts.
CREDIT: Courtesy Valentina Mordvintseva

The remains of three horses, a cow and the skull of a wild boar were also found buried near the warrior.

“These animals were particularly valuable among barbarian peoples of the ancient world. It was [a] sign of [the] great importance of the buried person, which was shown by his relatives and his tribe,” wrote team member Valentina Mordvintseva, a researcher at the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology, in an email to LiveScience. The animal bones and pottery remains suggest that a funeral feast was held in his honor.

Without written records it is difficult to say exactly who the warrior was, but rather than ruling a city or town, “he was rather a chief of a people,” Mordvintseva said.

The necropolis is located near the town of Mezmay. Grave robbers discovered the site in 2004 and rescue excavations began in 2005.

Who used the necropolis?

This iron axe is one of many weapons found with the burial of the warrior.
CREDIT: Photo courtesy Valentina Mordvintseva

Based on the artifacts, researchers believe the warrior’s burial dates back around 2,200 years, to a time when Greek culturewas popular in west Asia, while the necropolis itself appears to have been in use between the third century B.C. and the beginning of the second century A.D.

Researchers were careful to note that the artifacts cannot be linked to a specific archaeological culture. Mordvintseva points out that “this region is very big, and not sufficiently excavated,” particularly in the area where the necropolis is located. “[I]t is situated high in mountains. Perhaps the population of this area [had] trade routes/passes with Caucasian countries — Georgia, Armenia etc.,” Mordvintseva writes in the email.

While the people who used the necropolis were clearly influenced by Greek culture, they maintained their own way of life, said Mordvintseva. “Their material culture shows that they were rather very proud of themselves and kept their culture for centuries.”

Gold treasures

This way of life includes a fondness for gold-working. The warrior’s burial included more than a dozen artifacts made of the material. Perhaps the most spectacular find was a gold fibula-brooch with a rock crystal at its center. Although the brooch was only 2.3 by 1.9 inches (5.8 by 4.8 centimeters), it had several layers of intricately carved decorations leading toward the mount.

“Inside the mount a rock-crystal bead has been placed with a channel drilled through it from both ends,” the researchers write.

The team was surprised to find that two of the warrior’s swords (including the one pointing toward his pelvis) had gold decorations meant to be attached. In one case a short 19-inch (48.5-cm)-long iron sword had a gold plate, with inlayed agate, that was meant to adorn its sheath. Until now, scholars had never seen this type of golden sword decorations in this part of the ancient world, the researchers write. The “actual fact that these articles were used to decorate weapons sets them apart in a category all of their own, which has so far not been recorded anywhere else …”

The Unparticle May Lurk in Earth’s Mantle


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The Unparticle May Lurk in Earth’s Mantle

Jesse Emspak, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 21 February 2013 Time: 02:17 PM ET
Researchers used an experiment that relied on the electrons (red dots) in Earth’s mantle to look for new particles, possibly the unparticle, that are tied to a new fundamental force of nature called the long-range spin-spin interaction (blue wavy lines). The white arcs represent Earth’s magnetic field lines.
CREDIT: Marc Airhart (University of Texas at Austin) and Steve Jacobsen (Northwestern University). 

It’s a good time to be a particle physicist. The long-sought Higgs boson particle seems finally to have been found at an accelerator in Geneva, and scientists are now hot on the trail of another tiny piece of the universe, this one tied to a new fundamental force of nature.

An experiment using the Earth itself as a source of electrons has narrowed down the search for a new force-bearing particle, placing tighter limits on how big the force it carries can be.

As an added bonus, if the new particle is real, it will shed light on processes and structures inside Earth, say study researchers from Amherst College and the University of Texas at Austin. The experimental results appear in the Feb. 22 issue of the journal Science.

The new force of nature carries what is called long-range spin-spin interaction, said lead study author Larry Hunter, a physicist at Amherst. Short-range spin-spin interactions happen all the time: Magnets stick to the fridge because the electrons in the magnet and those in the fridge’s steel exterior are all spinning around in the same direction. But longer-range spin-spin interactions are more mysterious. [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature]

The force would operate in addition to the four fundamental forces familiar to physicists: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Some physicists think this new force exists because extending the Standard Model of particle physics — a theory that defines the physics of the tiniest particles — actually predicts as-yet undiscovered particles that would carry it.

The unparticle

There are three possibilities for where this force comes from. The first is a particle called the unparticle, which behaves like photons (light particles) in some ways, and like particles of matter in others. The second is one called the Z’ (pronounced “Z-prime”), a lighter cousin of the Z boson that carries the weak nuclear force. Both unparticles and Z’s arise from extensions of current physical theories. And the third possibility is that there is no new particle at all, but the theory of relativity has some component that is affecting spin.

The unparticle was first proposed in 2007 by Harvard physicist Howard Georgi. Particles have a definite mass, unless they are photons, which are massless. An electron or proton’s mass can’t change no matter how much momentum it has — change the mass (and thus its energy) and you change the kind of particle it is. Unparticles would have a variable mass-energy.

Though scientists have not yet found a new particle tied to the force, they did see that the long-range spin-spin interaction had to be smaller by a factor of 1 million than earlier experiments showed. If the force exists, it is so tiny that the gravitational force between two particles such as an electron and a neutron is a million times stronger.

The normal, fridge magnet type of spin interactions, mediated by photons, operate only at very short distances. For example, magnetic forces drop as the inverse cube of distance — go twice as far away and the strength of the force drops by a factor of eight. Long range spin-spin forces don’t seem to decrease by anywhere near as much. Physicists have been looking for the particles that carry this kind of interaction for years, but haven’t seen them. The Amherst experiment puts tighter limits on how strong the force is, which gives physicists a better idea of where to look.

Earth’s electrons

Theorists had already known the force they were seeking would be weak and could only be detected over very long distances. So the scientists needed a creative way to look for it. They needed to find a place where tons of electrons were crowded together to produce a stronger signal.

“Electrons have a big magnetic moment,” Hunter said. “They align better with the Earth’s magnetic field, so they are the obvious choice.” Anything that nudges the spins of electrons that line up with the Earth’s magnetic field will change the energy of those spins by a small amount. [50 Amazing Facts About Planet Earth]

So the Amherst and University of Texas team decided to use the electrons that are in the mantle of the Earth, because there are a lot of them — some 10^49. “People before prepared samples of spin-polarized neutrons and such,” Hunter said. “Their source was close, and controllable. But I realized that with a bigger source you could get better sensitivity.”

The reason is that even though only one in about 10 million mantle electrons will align their spin to the Earth’s magnetic field, that leaves 10^42 of them. Even though it’s not possible to control them the way one would in a lab, there are plenty to work with.

Electron map

The scientists first mapped out the spin directions and densities of electrons inside the Earth. The map was based on the work of Jung-Fu Lin, associate professor of geoscience at the University of Texas and a co-author of the new paper.

To make the map they used the known strength and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field everywhere within the planet’s mantle and crust. They used the map to calculate how much influence these electrons in the Earth would have had on spin-sensitive experiments that were done in Seattle and Amherst.

The Amherst team then applied a magnetic field to a group of subatomic particles — neutrons in this case — and looked closely at their spins. The Seattle group looked at electrons.

The change in the energy of the spins in these experiments depended on the direction they were pointing. Spins rotate around the applied magnetic fields with a distinct frequency. If the electrons in the mantle are transmitting some force that affects them, it should show up as a change in that frequency of the particles in the lab.

Besides narrowing the search for new forces, the experiment also pointed to another way to study Earth’s interior. Right now, models of Earth’s interior sometimes give inconsistent answers as to why, for example, seismic waves propagate through the mantle the way they do. The fifth force would be a way to “read” the subatomic particles there — and might help scientists understand the discrepancy. It would also help geoscientists see what type of iron is down there and the actual structure it has. “It would give us information that we mostly don’t have access to,” Lin said.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct the last name of physicist Larry Hunter.

Why is Quartz Used in Watches?


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Why is Quartz Used in Watches?

By: Benjamin Radford, Life’s Little Mysteries Contributor
Date: 21 February 2013 Time: 04:30 PM ET
Quartz is used in watches to keep more accurate time.

Quartz, made up of silica and oxygen, is one of the most common minerals on Earth. Billions of people use quartz every day, but few realize it because the tiny crystals they use are hidden in their watches and clocks. But what do the clear or whitish crystal rocks found all over the world have to do with timekeeping?

Some materials, such as certain ceramics and quartz crystals, can produce electricity when placed under mechanical stress. The ability to convert voltage to and from mechanical stress is called piezoelectricity. Quartz crystals maintain a precise frequency standard, which helps to regulate the movement of a watch or clock, thus making the timepieces very accurate. Quartz is also used in radios, microprocessors, and many other technological and industrial applications.

While it’s interesting to think that the quartz you find beautifying a landscaped lawn is also in your wristwatch, most of the quartz in electronics is synthetic, and specific quartzes can be created with specific frequencies for specific functions.

 

The mysterious propellers in Saturn’s rings


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The mysterious propellers in Saturn’s rings

The Cassini spacecraft has imaged propeller-shaped features in Saturn’s rings. They are created by tiny moons in Saturn’s rings perturbing the ring particles.

The two-bladed propeller-shaped feature near the bottom of image reveals the location of a tiny moonlet embedded in Saturn’s A ring. The feature is a result of the gravity of this moon affecting the orbits of nearby ring particles. The propeller has been nicknamed “Bleriot” by the imaging scientists, after the French aviator who first flew the English Channel in 1909.

The image was obtained at a distance of approximately 349,000 miles (561,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 41 degrees. Image scale is 2 miles (3 kilometers) per pixel. The moonlet itself is only about half a mile wide, making it invisible at this distance and resolution. Its presence is only made known through its effect on the particles around it. It is one of a growing number of “propeller” moons that have been observed over the past several years. This latest one is larger than the others and has cleared ring material from the dark wing-like regions to its left and right in these images. Disturbed ring material closer to the moon reflects sunlight brightly, creating the white, propeller-like shape. The propeller structure is about 3 miles, in the radial dimension (the dimension moving outward from Saturn), while the dark wings appear to be about 700 miles wide in the longitudinal direction.

The mysterious propellers in Saturn's ringsClick to enlarge.

The complex dynamics occurring within the rings offers scientists an insight into what went on in the early formation of the solar system, as the planets coalesced from a similar—-though infinitely larger—-ring around the sun. You can see the propeller in motion here.

Scientists discover that eating Mediterranean food can prevent heart disease


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Scientists discover that eating Mediterranean food can prevent heart disease

Eating a Mediterranean diet that contains olive oil and nuts can leave you with a healthier heart. In a randomized trial of nearly 7,500 people at risk of heart disease in Spain, researchers discovered that people who stuck to what they called the “Mediterranean diet” — supplemented either with extra virgin olive oil or nuts — had a lower risk of having a “cardiovascular incident” after four years. The best part? These diets were not intended to restrict calories, nor were participants asked to increase their amount of daily exercise. They were just encouraged to maximize healthy food intake.

The study was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, and in a supplement to the study the researchers explain that the people who were on the Mediterranean diet got the following advice from a dietician:

The general guidelines to follow the Mediterranean diet that dietitians provided to participants included the following positive recommendations: a) abundant use of olive oil for cooking and dressing dishes; b) consumption of ≥ 2 daily servings of vegetables (at least one of them as fresh vegetables in a salad), discounting side dishes; c) ≥ 2-3 daily servings of fresh fruits (including natural juices); d) ≥ 3 weekly servings of legumes; e) ≥ 3 weekly servings of fish or seafood (at least one serving of fatty fish); f) ≥ 1 weekly serving of nuts or seeds; g) select white meats (poultry without skin or rabbit) instead of red meats or processed meats (burgers, sausages); h) cook regularly (at least twice a week) with tomato, garlic and onion adding or not other aromatic herbs, and dress vegetables, pasta, rice and other dishes with tomato, garlic and onion adding or not aromatic herbs. This sauce is made by slowly simmering the minced ingredients with abundant olive oil. Negative recommendations are also given to eliminate or limit the consumption of cream, butter, margarine, cold meat, pate, duck, carbonated and/or sugared beverages, pastries, industrial bakery products (such as cakes, donuts, or cookies), industrial desserts (puddings, custard), French fries or potato chips, and out-of-home pre-cooked cakes and sweets.

So it’s not as simple as eating out at the local falafel joint every day. You have to stick to meals that balance fresh vegetables and low-fat meats with healthy oils and grains. Plus, no french fries or pastries — which seems particularly unfair given that Mediterranean fried potatoes are amazing, as is baklava. Still, it’s a fascinating study which reveals that what you eat is perhaps more important than how much you eat.

Plus, extra virgin olive oil for the win.

You can read the entire study in the New England Journal of Medicine

Photo by Africa Studio via Shutterstock

The camera that captured the first millisecond of a nuclear bomb blast


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The camera that captured the first millisecond of a nuclear bomb blast

 The camera that captured the first millisecond of a nuclear bomb blast

These are photographs of the first few milliseconds of nuclear explosions. They lead scientists to several new discoveries as to how nuclear bombs worked. But how do you capture the first millisecond of a nuclear bomb? With several rapatronic cameras, a Kerr cell, and a little physics.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, every new test, and every advance in power, taught scientists more about how nuclear fusion behaved. Once they had worked out the mechanics of nuclear bombs, they still craved details, and details were hard to come by when something went nuclear.

One major advance in the study of detonations was the invention of the rapatronic camera. It allowed scientists to get pictures of the explosion mere milliseconds after it went off. It showed them the spikes that were soon to be christened the rope trick effect. It showed them the curious mottling of the explosion, and the many forms that the explosion took. But how was it done? No camera had a shutter that could close in milliseconds. It was, at the time, mechanically impossible. And so they made a camera that did not require a mechanical shutter.

 

A rapatronic camera starts with two polarized lenses. Polarization is basically a kind of striping that allows only light waves oriented in one particular direction to come through (it’s used often in sunglasses). A few minutes of playing with polarized lenses allows you to notice a neat trick. If you have a lens that’s polarized one way, and layer another lens over that is polarized at a 90-degree angle to the first — so the two lenses are in a criss-cross pattern — you will block out all light. But there’s a twist. If you put a third polarized lens between these two, and set it at a diagonal to them both, suddenly light will get through. 

The camera that captured the first millisecond of a nuclear bomb blastThe scientists did the equivalent of putting a temporary lens between those two polarized lenses, and put in a Kerr cell. A Kerr cell is a suspension of electrodes in liquid. When it is shot through with an electric field, it creates a refractive index that rotates the light polarization. So the light passes through the first filter, is polarized, and is then twisted around so it can pass through the second filter. When the electric field is gone, the Kerr cell returns to normal, and the two lenses completely block the light again. This happens via electricity, not mechanical movement, and so could be cut down to only 10 nanoseconds. The result? Spectacular images of history’s most dreaded weapon.

Bomb Images: Sonic Bomb

Stacked Lens Image: Paul

Via Damn Interesting and Simple Thinking.