Unearthed Peruvian tomb confirms that women ruled over brutal ancient culture

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Unearthed Peruvian tomb confirms that women ruled over brutal ancient culture

Archaeologists digging in an ancient Peruvian tomb have unearthed a skeleton, confirming that a mysterious people known as the Moche were ruled by a succession of queens that presided over a brutal and ritualistic society. Ancient Priestess peru


Centuries ago, in the Sechura Desert of northern Peru — one of the most arid and brutal environments on our planet — the Moche peopledeveloped an equally-brutal culture. With no written history left behind, much of their society still remains a mystery, but paintings on pottery have shown researchers evidence of a rigid culture of survival, with ritualized combats where the losing side was sacrificed.

 peru priestesses

Archaeologists uncover the priestess in her ‘impressive’ tomb in Chepén, northern Peru.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/24/ancient-priestess-peru-tomb-photos_n_3806695.html

Findings in recent years expanded the tale of these people even further, telling a story of how they were ruled by women, priestesses who also acted as queens. The first of the discoveries that hinted at this possibility, apparently, was the Lady of Cao, a mummy unearthed from a tomb in 2006 that showed signs of dying during childbirth. The discovery of yet another priestess’s skeleton, the latest of eight found so far, has confirmed this. The body was buried in an elaborate 1,200 year old tomb in Chepén, along with adult and child sacrifices. File:La Señora de Cao.JPG

Replica of Señora de Cao

“This find makes it clear that women didn’t just run rituals in this area but governed here and were queens of Mochica society,” said project director Luis Jaime Castillo, according to the Associated Free Press.

“It is the eighth priestess to be discovered,” he added. “Our excavations have only turned up tombs with women, never men.”


http://agutie.homestead.com/files/world_news_map/mummy_tattoos_found_peru.html (Below) :

A female mummy, baptized the Lady of Cao, with complex tattoos on her arms has been found in a ceremonial burial site in Peru, the National Geographic Society reported Tuesday. Archaeologists say is one of the best-ever relics of a civilization that ended more than 1,300 years ago.



The mummy was accompanied by ceremonial items including jewelry and weapons, and the remains of a teenage girl who had been sacrificed, archaeologists reported. Such a complete array has never been seen before in a Moche tomb.

The presence of gold jewelry and other fine items indicates the mummy was that of an important person, but anthropologist John Verano of Tulane University said the researchers are puzzled by the presence of war clubs, which are not usually found with females.

Peruvian archaeologists, under the direction of lead scientist Régulo Franco, made the discovery last year at an ancient ceremonial site known as El Brujo –  “the Wizard”.

The tomb lay near the top of a crumbling pyramid called Huaca Cao Viejo, a ruin near the town of Trujillo that has been well known since colonial times.

Verano said the finding is the first of its kind in Peru, and he likens it to the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt.

“We have an entire repertoire of a very high status tomb, preserved perfectly,” Verano said.

The burial site that held the tattooed mummy was part of an ornate enclosure holding four graves, at a ceremonial site known as El Brujo — “the Wizard” on Peru’s north coast, near Trujillo.

They said the woman was part of the Moche culture, which thrived in the area between A.D. 1 and A.D. 700. The mummy was dated about A.D. 450.

The woman had complex tattoos, distinct from others of the Moche, covering both arms and other areas. Bone scarring indicated the woman had given birth at least once. The cause of her death was not apparent.

Verano said she would have been considered an adult in her prime. Some Moche people reached their 60s and 70s.

The grave also contained headdresses, jewelry made of gold and semiprecious stones, war clubs, spear throwers, gold sewing needles, weaving tools and raw cotton.

“Perhaps she was a female warrior, or maybe the war clubs and spear throwers were symbols of power that were funeral gifts from men,” Verano said. In the thousands of Moche tombs previously exposed, no female warrior has been identified.

Mummy an “Astonishing” Find

Verano, who has been working with the El Brujo project since 1995, said the area is “one gigantic cemetery” that has been scoured by grave-robbers for centuries.

But the newly found funerary chamber had been sealed from both looters and the elements since around A.D. 450.

The Peruvian team found the complete burial array intact and perfectly preserved, down to the white cotton wrappings of the mummy bundle.

“It’s astonishing,” said Moche authority Christopher Donnan, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not part of the excavation. “This is far and away the best preserved Moche mummy that has ever been found.”

The find is described in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.

The Peruvian team is funded by the Augusto N. Wiese Foundation and Peru’s National Institute of Culture.

Verano’s research is funded by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

Mummy of a Moche woman with a golden bowl over her face.

The mummy of a Moche woman lies in her grave bundle with a golden bowl over her face and beads spilling from long-disintegrated necklaces. At the lower edge of the image, tattoos can be seen on the mummy’s arm.

Ira Block / National Geographic

The elaborately wrapped mummy was discovered perfectly preserved.


Another important find involved how the Moche culture disappeared.

Originally, it was thought that they died off due to a devastating climate upheaval — a ‘mega-El Nino‘ that lasted for 30 years. Evidence in the mountains of northern Peru showed that, sometime between 560 and 650 A.D., there was 30 years of drought followed by 30 years of heavy rain and snow. It’s known that when the mountains experience these weather conditions, the Sechura Desert gets the opposite effect, so the Moche would have been subjected to 30 years of rainy weather followed by 30 years of extreme drought.

However, recent evidence points to a more violent downturn for the Moche. They apparently survived the extreme shifts in climate, but with scarce resources left over in the aftermath, they turned on each other, exchanging their ritualized combats for a bloody civil war that eventually destroyed them.

(Photos courtesy: Douglas Suarez/AFP/Getty Images)

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Moche (culture)

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Moche (culture)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Moche Culture
Culturally united independent polities


A map of Moche cultural influence.
Capital Moche
Languages Muchik
Religion Polytheist
Political structure Culturally united independent polities
Historical era Pre-Columbian
 – Established 100
 – Disestablished 700

The Moche civilization (alternatively, the Mochica culture, Early Chimu, Pre-Chimu, Proto-Chimu, etc.) flourished in northernPeru with its capital near present-day Moche and Trujillo, from about 100 AD to 800 AD, during the Regional Development Epoch. While this issue is the subject of some debate, many scholars contend that the Moche were not politically organized as a monolithic empire or state. Rather, they were likely a group of autonomous polities that shared a common elite culture, as seen in the rich iconography and monumental architecture that survive today. They are particularly noted for their elaborately painted ceramicsgold work, monumental constructions (huacas) and irrigation systems. Moche history may be broadly divided into three periods – the emergence of the Moche culture in Early Moche (100–300 AD), its expansion and florescence during Middle Moche (300–600 AD), and the urban nucleation and subsequent collapse in Late Moche (500–750 AD).

Moche society was agriculturally based, with a significant level of investment in the construction of a network of irrigation canals for the diversion of river water to supply their crops. Their culture was sophisticated; and their artifacts express their lives, with detailed scenes of hunting, fishing, fighting, sacrifice, sexual encounters and elaborate ceremonies.

The Moche cultural sphere is centered around several valleys on the north coast of Peru in regions La LibertadLambayeque,JequetepequeChicamaMocheVirúChaoSanta, and Nepena. The Huaca del Sol, a pyramidal adobe structure on the Rio Moche, was the largest pre-Columbian structure in Peru, but it was partly destroyed when Spanish Conquistadores mined its graves for gold. The nearby Huaca de la Luna, however, has remained largely intact; it contains many colorful murals with complex iconography and has been under archaeological excavation since the early 1990s. Other major Moche sites includeSipan, Pampa Grande, Loma Negra, Dos Cabezas, Pacatnamu, San Jose de Moro, the El Brujo complex, Mocollope, Cerro Mayal, Galindo, Huanchaco, and Panamarca.


File:Moche portrait ceramic Quai Branly 71.1930.19.162 n2.jpg

Moche portrait vessel,
Musée du quai Branly in Paris

Moche pottery is some of the most varied in the world. The use of mold technology is evident. This would have enabled the mass production of certain forms. But Moche ceramics vary widely in shape and theme, with most important social activities documented in pottery, including war,metalwork, and weaving.

Traditional north coast Peruvian ceramic art uses a limited palette, relying primarily on red and white; fineline painting, fully modeled clay, veristic figures, and stirrup spouts. Moche ceramics created between 150–800 AD epitomize this style. Moche pots have been found not just at major north coast archaeological sites, such as Huaca de la luna, Huaca del sol, and Sipan, but at small villages and unrecorded burial sites as well.

Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), Mochica cultural capital, 4 km south of the modern city of Trujillo

Because irrigation was the source of wealth and foundation of the empire, the Moche culture emphasized the importance of circulation and flow. Expanding upon this, the Moche focused on the passage of fluids in their artwork, particularly life fluids through vulnerable human orifices. There are countless images of defeated warriors losing life fluids through their nose, or helpless victims getting their eyes torn out by birds or captors. Images of captive sex-slaves with gaping orifices and leaking fluids portray extreme exposure, humiliation, and a loss of power.

The coloration of Moche pottery is often simple, with yellowish cream and rich red used almost exclusively on elite pieces, with white and black used in only a few pieces. Their adobe buildings have been mostly destroyed by looters and natural forces over the last 1300 years, but thehuacas that remain show that the coloring of their murals was very vibrant.

The Moche are known for their portraiture pottery. The pottery portraits created by the Moche appear to represent actual individuals. Many of the portraits are of individuals with physical disfigurements or genetic defects.



Ceramic Depicting Fellatio. Moche Culture. Larco Museum Collection. Lima, Peru


Ceramic depicting anal sex

The realistic detail in Moche ceramics may have helped them serve as didactic models. Older generations could pass down general knowledge about reciprocity and embodiment to younger generations through such portrayals. The sex pots could teach about procreation, sexual pleasure, cultural and social norms, a sort of immortality, and transfer of life and souls, transformation, and the relationship between the two cyclical views of nature and life.[Textiles

The Moche wove textiles, mostly using wool from vicuña and alpaca. Although there are few surviving examples of this, descendants of the Moche people have strong weaving traditions


English: 0
English: 0 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)












Resting deer,
Larco Museum Collection


The Moche wove textiles, mostly using wool from vicuña and alpaca. Although there are few surviving examples of this, descendants of the Moche people have strong weaving traditions.

File:Lombards Museum 162.JPG

alpaca wool tapestry, Moche 600-900 A.D

File:Moche warrior pot at the British Museum.jpg

Moche warrior pot, from Moche, Peru, About AD 100–700. British Museum (Am,P.1)


Earplugs of gold inlaid with precious stones


File:Nariguera Moche2.JPG

Moche Nariguera depicting the Decapitator (Ayapec, Ai Apaec ), gold with turquoise and chrysocolla inlays. Museo Oro del Peru, Lima

File:Moche decapitator.jpg

Moche “Decapitator” (Ayapec, Ai Apaec) mural at Huaca de la Luna

Both iconography and the finds of human skeletons in ritual contexts seem to indicate that human sacrifice played a significant part in Moche religious practices. These rites appear to have involved the elite as key actors in a spectacle of costumed participants, monumental settings and possibly the ritual consumption of blood. While some scholars, such as Christopher B. Donnan and Izumi Shimada, argue that the sacrificial victims were the losers of ritual battles among local elites, others, such as John Verano and Richard Sutter, suggest that the sacrificial victims were warriors captured in territorial battles between the Moche and other nearby societies. Excavations in plazas near Moche huacas have found groups of people sacrificed together and the skeletons of young men deliberatelyexcarnated, perhaps for temple displays.

The Moche may have also held and tortured the victims for several weeks before sacrificing them, with the intent of deliberately drawing blood. Verano believes that some parts of the victim may have been eaten as well in ritual cannibalism. The sacrifices may have been associated with rites of ancestral renewal and agricultural fertility. Moche iconography features a figure which scholars have nicknamed the “Decapitator” or Ai Apaec; it is frequently depicted as a spider, but sometimes as a winged creature or a sea monster: together all three features symbolize land, water and air. When the body is included, the figure is usually shown with one arm holding a knife and another holding a severed head by the hair; it has also been depicted as “a human figure with a tiger’s mouth and snarling fangs”. The “Decapitator” is thought to have figured prominently in the beliefs surrounding the practice of sacrifice.


There are several theories as to what caused the demise of the Moche political structure. Some scholars have emphasised the role of environmental change. Studies of ice cores drilled from glaciers in the Andes reveal climatic events between 536 to 594 AD, possibly a super El Niño, that resulted in 30 years of intense rain and flooding followed by 30 years of drought, part of the aftermath of the climate changes of 535–536. These weather events could have disrupted the Moche way of life and shattered their faith in their religion, which had promised stable weather through sacrifices.

Other evidence demonstrates that these events did not cause the final Moche demise. Moche polities survived beyond 650 AD in the Jequetepeque Valley and the Moche Valleys. For instance, in the Jequetepeque Valley, later settlements are characterized by fortifications and defensive works. While there is no evidence of a foreign invasion, as many scholars have suggested in the past (i.e. aHuari invasion), the defensive works suggest social unrest, possibly the result of climatic changes, as factions fought for control over increasingly scarce resources.

Links with other cultures

Chronologically, the Moche was an Early Intermediate Period culture, which was preceded by the Chavín horizon and succeeded by the Huari and Chimú. The Moche co-existed with the Ica-Nazca culture in the south. They are thought to have had some limited contact with the Ica-Nazca because they later mined guano for fertilizer and may have traded with northerners. Moche pottery has been found near Ica, but no Ica-Nazca pottery has been found in Moche territory. The coastal Moche culture also co-existed (or overlapped in time) with the slightly earlier Recuay culture in the highlands. Some Moche iconographic motifs can be traced to Recuay design elements.

Archeological Discoveries

File:TumbaSeñorSipán2 lou.jpg

The Lord of Sipán, Royal Tombs of Sipán museum, Lambayeque, Peru

File:Peru Huanchaco Typical Fisherman reed boats.jpg

Caballito de totora in the Peruvian beach of Huanchaco.

In 1987, archeologists, alerted by the local police, discovered the first intact Moche tomb at Sipán in northern Peru. Inside the tomb, which was carbon dated to about 300 CE, the archeologists found the mummified remains of a high ranking male, the Lord of Sipán. Also found in the tomb were the remains of six other individuals, several animals, and a large variety of ornamental and functional items, many of which were made of gold, silver, and other valuable materials. Continuing excavations of the site have yielded thirteen additional tombs.

In 2005, a mummified Moche woman known as the Lady of Cao was discovered at the Huaca Cao Viejo, part of the El Brujoarchaeological site on the outskirts of present-day Trujillo, Peru. It is the best preserved Moche mummy found to date and the elaborate tomb that housed her had unprecedented decoration. The archaeologists on the site believe that the tomb had been undisturbed since approximately 450 AD. The tomb also contained various military and ornamental artifacts, including war clubs and spear throwers. The remains of a garroted young girl, probably a servant, was also found in the tomb. News of the discovery was announced by Peruvian and U.S. archaeologists in collaboration with National Geographic in May 2006.

In 2005 perhaps the most lavish and valuable Moche artifact ever discovered turned up in a Londoner’s office; it was an elaborate gold mask thought to depict a sea god, with curving rays radiating from a stone-inlaid feline face. Experts thought that the artifact may have been looted in the late 1980s from an elite tomb at the Moche site of La Mina. Recovered by Scotland Yard, it was returned to Peru in 2006.




These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

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These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

VINCZE MIKLÓS  http://io9.com/these-alien-looking-ice-sculptures-formed-all-on-their-1182152857

They look like the work of a twisted science artist. Some maniac who spent hours dreaming up nightmare shapes made of ice. But no, these monstrous and lovely ice sculptures were formed by natural processes. Here are some of the most other-worldly ice formations on Earth.

Top image: the 35-foot tall St. Joseph lighthouse near Lake Michigan, photo by Tom Gill, viaAmusing Planet.

Frozen Niagara Falls, 1911

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(via Hoax-Slayer)

Ice-covered lampposts from the spray of Niagara Falls, 1927

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own3

(via Ontario Ministry of Government Services, photo by John Boyd)

After a storm in Winthrop, Massachusetts, 1927

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(photo by Leslie Jones, via Boston Public Library)

After an ice storm in Minnesota, 1966

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(via Domeischel Gallery)

Truck covered with ice in Mount Prospect, Illinois, December 2000

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Newsmakers, via Getty Images)

Ice-encrusted landscape at Lake Leman, Switzerland, 2005 and 2008

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(Photos by Jean-Pierre Scherrer, via sir-raySchwingen In Switzerland and Martial Trezzini/Keystone, via AP)

Ice covers the lighthouse of South Haven, Michigan in 2007

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(via ispank.me and Tom Gill)

A place from a fairy tale in Estonia, 2008

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(via English Russia)

Rocks and trees along the Lake Erie, Cleveland, Ohio, December 2010

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(Photo by AP/Mark Duncan)

A lighthouse at the entrance to Cleveland harbor, Ohio, 2010

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(Photo by AP/Mark Duncan)

A lonely tree after storm

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(via trasyy)

A child runs past a wave protection dam covered in ice as the waters of the Black Sea are frozen near the shore in Constanta, Romania, 2012

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(Photo by AP/Vadim Ghirda)

The aftermath of an ice storm in Petrozavodsk, Russia

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(via AcidCow)

Ice covers a bench, a lamp and the ground on the shore of Lake Balaton in Balatonfenyves, Hungary, March 2013

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(Photo by AP/MTI/Gyorgy Varga)

Icebreaker Louis Saint Laurent in Resolute Bay, Nunavut Territory, Canada (74°42′ N, 95°18′ W)

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(photo by Yann Arthus Bertrand, via Earth From Above)

Bonus: A Chicago Warehouse covered in ice after a fire, January 2013

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

These alien-looking ice sculptures formed all on their own

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Astronomers Release Highest-Resolution Photos Ever Taken of Night Sky

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Astronomers Release Highest-Resolution Photos Ever Taken of Night Sky

ROBERT T. GONZALEZ  http://io9.com/astronomers-release-highest-resolution-photos-ever-take-1187861952

Hold on to your butts, space junkies. After more than twenty years of development, an international team of astronomers has unveiled a new telescope optics system that produces higher resolution images of space than anything else on the planet. Or off the planet, for that matter – this thing records visible-light images with more than twice the sharpness of those captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Above: A close-up of the Orion nebula’s central region – the photographic subject of the new optic system’s first images (NB: this image ≠ the high-res photo you’re looking for – those are further down the page) // Photo: Adam Block/UA SkyCenter.

“It was very exciting to see this new camera make the night sky look sharper than has ever before been possible” said Laird Close of the University of Arizona, the project’s principal scientist, in a statement. “We, for the first time, can make deep images that resolve objects just 0.02 arcseconds across — this is a very small angle — it is like resolving the width of a dime seen from 100 miles away, or like resolving a convoy of three school busses driving together on the surface of the Moon.”

Hubble has long been the untouchable go-to telescope for imaging space in visible light. The reason? It’s in space. Even the most powerful ground-based telescopes on Earth (which tend to be bigger than the ones we put off-planet) must contend with interference from our atmosphere – a sort of turbulence that has a blurring effect on images. The effect is the same reason stars appear to twinkle when we stare up at the night sky.

To overcome this atmospheric interference, astronomers rely on a technique known as Adaptive Optics (AO). AO has been around for decades, and is used on many of the world’s most well-known ground-based telescopes, but Close’s team has improved the technique’s effectiveness immensely. Their new AO system takes a thin, curved-glass mirror (just 1/16th of an inch thin!) measuring 2.8-meters across and floats it on a magnetic field 30-feet above the 21-foot-diameter primary mirror of the Magellan telescope. This floating Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM) can vibrate, changing its shape at close to 600 points across its surface, at a rate of 1,000 times per second, thereby counteracting the blurring effects of the atmosphere.

Astronomers Release Highest-Resolution Photos Ever Taken of Night SkySEXPANDMagAO’s ASM mounted above the Magellan Telescope’s Primary Mirror (housed within the blue mirror cell) // Photo Credit: Yuri Beletsky, Las Campanas Observatory.

“As a result, we can see the visible sky more clearly than ever before,” Close said. “It’s almost like having a telescope with a 21-foot mirror in space.”

The team calls its new AO system “Magellan Adaptive Optics,” or MagAO for short, and the optical apparatus is already making breakthroughs.

Astronomers Release Highest-Resolution Photos Ever Taken of Night SkySEXPANDPhoto credit Laird Close, University of Arizona.

Consider, for example, these three images of Theta 1 Ori C1 and Theta 1 Ori C2. While astronomers have known for some time that the stars comprise a binary pair, they are so close to one another that they have never been able to resolve them independently, on account of the blurring effect of atmospheric interference. But when Close’s team flipped the switch on MagAO, the atmosphere’s effects were eliminated and the two stars popped into clear and unambiguous view.

“I have been imaging Theta 1 Ori C for more than 20 years and never could directly see that it was in fact two stars,” Close said. “But as soon as we turned on the MagAO system it was beautifully split into two stars.”

Astronomers Release Highest-Resolution Photos Ever Taken of Night SkySEXPANDPhoto credits: Laird Close and Ya-Lin Wu; NASA, C.R. O’Dell and S.K. Wong

The above mosaic of the Orion nebula gives more examples of what the MagAO can do. The background images were taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, and show the Trapezium cluster of young stars, still forming, in pink. The insets, captured with the MagAO, highlight the new instrument’s unprecedented resolving power.

The results of these and other investigations utilizing the MagAO’s unprecedented imaging abilities – including a study on planet formation – have just been published in The Astrophysical Journal. Check them out, free of charge, over on arXiv: Herehere and here. For coverage of the planetary formation study, visit UANews.


Singapore’s Vertical Farms

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Singapore’s Vertical Farms

By Kaushik Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Land is a luxury that Singaporeans cannot afford. An island country of only 710 square km is already home to 5 million people. No wonder, Singapore’s skyline is thick with skyscrapers. In this high-density urbanized island, where 93 percent of food is imported, the notion of farming seems not only crazy but downright implausible. Yet, an ambitious entrepreneur says he can produce five times as many vegetables as a regular farm does right in the heart of Singapore’s thickly populated central business district. Thanks to his radically new farming technique, Jack Ng’s city farm is able to produce 1 ton of fresh veggies every other day, providing citizens a new and sustainable source of locally produced goodies.


Jack Ng’s technology is called “A-Go-Gro,” and it looks like a 30-foot tall Ferris wheel for plants. Trays of Chinese vegetables are stacked inside an aluminum A-frame, and a belt rotates them so that the plants receive equal light, good air flow and irrigation. The water powering the frames is recycled and filtered before returning to the plants. All organic waste on the farm is composted and reused. Water wheels are gravity aided, which take little electricity. According to Ng the energy needed to power one A-frame is the equivalent of illuminating just one 60-watt light bulb.

The whole system has a footprint of only about 60 square feet, or the size of an average bathroom. A total of 120 such towers has been erected in Kranji, 14 miles from Singapore’s central business district, with plans for 300 more, which would allow the farm to produce two tons of vegetables per day. Ng wants to build over 2,000 towers in the next few years.

Ng sells his produce under the name SkyGreens in grocery stores, providing consumers an alternative to imported products. Although SkyGreens produce costs about 10 percent more than the shipped vegetables, they are reportedly “flying off the shelves,” according to Channel NewsAsia – perhaps because the vertical veggies are fresher than most available in Singapore.

Sky Greens venture is supported by the Singaporean government as it will allows the island to become more self-sufficient as a food source. Jack Ng believes his system could be adopted around the world, especially in Southeast Asia.











Sources: PBSInhabitatCNNNPRNYTimes

Dramatic paintings of gathering storm clouds

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Dramatic paintings of gathering storm clouds

LAUREN DAVIS  http://io9.com/dramatic-paintings-of-gathering-stormclouds-1195973496

Clouds are clearly the stars of Michelle Manley‘s landscape paintings. By exaggerating their peaks and curves, and pulling from the full spectrum of cloudy colors, Manley creates ominous scenes of looming, almost monstrous storms.

Manley previously created an erosion series of paintings, and is currently working on her storm series and a water series as well. She explains that her work is inspired by nature’s extreme shifts, and the simultaneous anxiety and aesthetic appreciation they can provoke.

[Michelle Manley via This Isn’t Happiness]

Dramatic paintings of gathering storm clouds

Dramatic paintings of gathering storm clouds

Dramatic paintings of gathering storm clouds

A wolf howl is the ultimate sign of respect (if you’re a wolf)

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A wolf howl is the ultimate sign of respect (if you’re a wolf)

ALASDAIR WILKINS  http://io9.com/a-wolf-howl-is-the-ultimate-sign-of-respect-if-youre-1198779680

Wolf howls are among the most recognizable—and, depending on one’s situation, most fearsome—sounds in the wild, with their low pitch and long duration making them the perfect form of natural long-distance communication. But just why do wolves want to reach out to one another over the vast expanses of forest and tundra?

We know that wolf howls aren’t just random noises; scientists have been able to identify individual wolf howls that are unique various different packs, with each particular howl used in certain distinct circumstances. While wolf howls have several purposes, a major one is to reestablish contact with a missing member of the pack. The question that an international team of researchers recently sought to answer was just why wolves howl more for certain group members than others. To do that, the team removed certain wolves one at a time from a pack, then recorded just how desperately the rest of the wolves howled for their missing friend.

When the removed wolf was known to be a high-ranking member of the pack’s hierarchy, the wolves howled more; the same phenomenon was also observed for certain wolves when one of their close companions in the pack was taken away. The researchers hypothesized a relatively straightforward biological explanation, specifically that the wolves recognized the loss of a valuable member and became stressed out, hence why they howled more for the wolf’s return. But subsequent analysis showed that the wolves’ stress levels never changed, suggesting their motivations for howling weren’t quite so primal. Dr. Simon Townsend, a lead author of the study from Switzerland’s University of Zurich, explains what they ultimately determined:

“Wolves seem to howl more when higher ranking individuals leave because these individuals play quite important roles in the social lives of wolves. When they leave it makes sense that the remaining wolves would want to try and re-initiate or regain contact. The same applies for friendship. What we expected was higher cortisol levels if the wolves were more stressed when ‘friends’ leave, but what we found is that cortisol doesn’t seem to explain the variation in the howling behavior we see. Instead it’s explained more by social factors – the absence of a high ranking individual or the absence of a closer affiliate.”

Those are some intriguingly sophisticated social dynamics. Speaking to the BBC News, Holly Root-Gutteridge — who wasn’t involved in the study but is an expert in wolf howls at Nottingham Trent University — explains just why this finding is so remarkable:

“The wolves are choosing to howl because a preferred wolf has been removed and they appear to consciously choose to stay in touch with that wolf. That’s fascinating because it’s really hard to separate social contact calls from the trigger causing them and also the hormone change the trigger causes. It means the wolves may be taking complex social interactions into consideration and then changing their own behaviour accordingly, not by instinct but by choice.”

For more, check out the BBC or the original paper at Current Biology.

Image by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr.