Maya Palace Discovered Deep in the Mexican Jungle


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Maya Palace Discovered Deep in the Mexican Jungle

By Laura Geggel – Associate Editor 3 days ago
The palace is still revealing its secrets to researchers.

Archaeologists had some trees removed so that the palace excavation could go forward. Now, scientists may plant new trees to protect the delicate ruins.

Archaeologists had some trees removed so that the palace excavation could go forward. Now, scientists may plant new trees to protect the delicate ruins.
(Image: © Mauricio Marat/INAH)

Archaeologists have found a Maya stone palace that dates to more than 1,000 years ago, according to the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
It’s likely that the Maya elite enjoyed the sturdy abode, INAH archaeologists said. Scientists have spent years excavating and restoring Maya structures surrounding the palace, which is located at the archaeological site of Kulubá, a landmark in northeast Yucatán just 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Cancún.

But it was only recently that scientists had time to study the enigmatic palace and conclude that it was probably a building for only the posh upper echelons of society, the archaeologists said in a statement.

Related: Photos: Carvings Depict Maya Ballplayers in Action
The palace had six rooms and measures about 180 feet long, 50 feet wide and 20 feet tall (55 by 15 by 6 meters). Because it’s so big, restorers have a ways to go before the building is fully conserved. The palace would have been even grander back in the day, when it was part of a larger complex that included an altar, an oven and residential rooms, archaeologist Alfredo Barrera Rubio, one of the project’s leaders, said in a statement. The palace even has a staircase, he added.
An analysis of the palace indicates that people lived there at two different times: during the Late Classic period, from A.D. 600 to 900, and again during the Terminal Classic period, from A.D. 850 to 1050.
However, it appears that Kulubá didn’t remain independent for that entire time.
“It was in the Terminal Classic when Chichén Itzá, becoming a prominent metropolis in the northeast of present-day Yucatán, extended its influence over sites such as Kulubá,” Barrera said. Based on similar artifacts made out of ceramic and obsidian found in Chichén Itzá and Kulubá from the Terminal Classic, “we can infer that it [Kulubá] became an Itzá enclave,” he said.

Restoration is hard work, but María Fernanda Escalante Hernández and Natalia Hernández Tangarife, restorers with the INAH, are elbow deep in the process.

Restoration is hard work, but María Fernanda Escalante Hernández and Natalia Hernández Tangarife, restorers with the INAH, are elbow deep in the process. (Image credit: Mauricio Marat/INAH)

A researcher cleans the stucco exterior of a Maya remain in Kulubá, Mexico. (Image credit: Mauricio Marat/INAH)

The palace has six rooms. (Image credit: Mauricio Marat/INAH)

The palace is about 180 feet long, 50 feet wide and 20 feet tall (55 by 15 by 6 meters). (Image credit: Mauricio Marat/INAH)

An excavator examines the palace’s remains. (Image credit: Mauricio Marat/INAH)

Researchers are studying and restoring the palace’s remains. (Image credit: Mauricio Marat/INAH)

Archaeologists have confirmed that this stone building in Kulubá, in the Mexican state of Yucatán, is a palace dating to more than 1,000 years ago. (Image credit: Mauricio Marat/INAH)

“We know very little about the architectural characteristics of this region,” Barrera said in Spanish in a video about the discovery. “So one of our main objectives, as well as the protection and restoration of cultural heritage, is the study of the architecture of Kulubá.”
The palace also has a few secondary burials, meaning that people were buried there after their original burial, the archaeologists said. Future studies will shed light on the age, sex and medical conditions of these people, Barrera said.
The Maya civilization stretched from modern-day southern Mexico through Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. The culture is renowned for its massive pyramids, metalwork, irrigation systems and agriculture, as well as its complex hieroglyphics. However, no one knows why the civilization fizzled out between A.D. 800 and 1000. It’s possible that drought, and even deforestation, led to the Maya’s demise, research suggests.
For now, researchers intend to plant more trees around the palace to make up for the tree cover they removed during excavations at the site, The Guardian reported.
“One option which the site offers is using vegetation for conservation,” Natalia Tangarife, part of the conservation team, told The Guardian. “This would mean reforesting specific sites so that trees can provide protection from direct sunlight, wind and other elements, for those structures which still have some of the original paint colors.”
The state of Yucatán is funding the project.
In Photos: Hidden Maya Civilization
In Photos: Ancient Maya Carvings Exposed in Guatemala
Maya Mural Reveals Ancient ‘Photobomb’
Originally published on Live Science.

 

What Is Space-Time?


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What Is Space-Time?

By Adam Mann – Live Science Contributor 19 days ago
Reference Article: A simple explanation of space-time

Long exposure star trail image taken at Hehuan Mountain, Taiwan.

Space-time is the conceptual model that best explains how the universe works.
(Image: © Shutterstock)

The fabric of space-time is a conceptual model combining the three dimensions of space with the fourth dimension of time. According to the best of current physical theories, space-time explains the unusual relativistic effects that arise from traveling near the speed of light as well as the motion of massive objects in the universe.
Who discovered space-time?
The famous physicist Albert Einstein helped develop the idea of space-time as part of his theory of relativity. Prior to his pioneering work, scientists had two separate theories to explain physical phenomena: Isaac Newton’s laws of physics described the motion of massive objects, while James Clerk Maxwell’s electromagnetic models explained the properties of light, according to NASA.

Related: Newton’s Laws of Motion
But experiments conducted at the end of the 19th century suggested that there was something special about light. Measurements showed that light always traveled at the same speed, no matter what. And in 1898, the French physicist and mathematician Henri Poincaré speculated that the velocity of light might be an unsurpassable limit. Around that same time, other researchers were considering the possibility that objects changed in size and mass, depending on their speed.
Einstein pulled all of these ideas together in his 1905 theory of special relativity, which postulated that the speed of light was a constant. For this to be true, space and time had to be combined into a single framework that conspired to keep light’s speed the same for all observers.

Einstein’s theory of special relativity posited that the speed of light was constant because light always travels at the same speed. (Image credit: Shutterstock)
A person in a superfast rocket will measure time to be moving slower and the lengths of objects to be shorter compared with a person traveling at a much slower speed. That’s because space and time are relative — they depend on an observer’s speed. But the speed of light is more fundamental than either.
The conclusion that space-time is a single fabric wasn’t one that Einstein reached by himself. That idea came from German mathematician Hermann Minkowski, who said in a 1908 colloquium, “Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.”
The space-time he described is still known as Minkowski space-time and serves as the backdrop of calculations in both relativity and quantum-field theory. The latter describes the dynamics of subatomic particles as fields, according to astrophysicist and science writer Ethan Siegel.

How space-time works
Nowadays, when people talk about space-time, they often describe it as resembling a sheet of rubber. This, too, comes from Einstein, who realized as he developed his theory of general relativity that the force of gravity was due to curves in the fabric of space-time.
Massive objects — like the Earth, sun or you — create distortions in space-time that cause it to bend. These curves, in turn, constrict the ways in which everything in the universe moves, because objects have to follow paths along this warped curvature. Motion due to gravity is actually motion along the twists and turns of space-time.
A NASA mission called Gravity Probe B (GP-B) measured the shape of the space-time vortex around the Earth in 2011 and found that it closely accords with Einstein’s predictions.
Related: Ripples in Space-Time Could Reveal the Shape of Wormholes
But much of this remains difficult for most people to wrap their heads around. Although we can discuss space-time as being similar to a sheet of rubber, the analogy eventually breaks down. A rubber sheet is two dimensional, while space-time is four dimensional. It’s not just warps in space that the sheet represents, but also warps in time. The complex equations used to account for all of this are tricky for even physicists to work with.
“Einstein made a beautiful machine, but he didn’t exactly leave us a user’s manual,” wrote astrophysicist Paul Sutter for Live Science’s sister site, Space.com. “Just to drive home the point, general relativity is so complex that when someone discovers a solution to the equations, they get the solution named after them and become semi-legendary in their own right.”


The simplest way to understand the fabric of space-time is to imagine a curved sheet of rubber that directs how everything in the universe moves. But the analogy isn’t entirely accurate because space-time has four dimensions, while a sheet of rubber only has two. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

What scientists still don’t know
Despite its intricacy, relativity remains the best way to account for the physical phenomena we know about. Yet scientists know that their models are incomplete because relativity is still not fully reconciled with quantum mechanics, which explains the properties of subatomic particles with extreme precision but does not incorporate the force of gravity.

Quantum mechanics rests on the fact that the tiny bits making up the universe are discrete, or quantized. So photons, the particles that make up light, are like little chunks of light that come in distinct packets.
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Some theorists have speculated that perhaps space-time itself also comes in these quantized chunks, helping to bridge relativity and quantum mechanics. Researchers at the European Space Agency have proposed the Gamma-ray Astronomy International Laboratory for Quantum Exploration of Space-Time (GrailQuest) mission, which would fly around our planet and make ultra-accurate measurements of distant, powerful explosions called gamma-ray bursts that could reveal the up-close nature of space-time.
Such a mission wouldn’t launch for at least a decade and a half but, if it did, it would perhaps help solve some of the biggest mysteries remaining in physics.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


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Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

By Cari Nierenberg August 31, 2018

Biodigital human nervous system

Shown here is the nervous system, containing the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves.
(Image: © The BioDigital HumanTM developed by NYU School of Medicine and BioDigital Systems LLC)

Named for the two French physicians who first detected it, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a rare neurological disorder in which a person’s own immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, the network of nerves found outside of the brain and spinal cord. (The disorder is pronounced ghee-yan bah-ray.)
Specifically, GBS damages the myelin sheath, a protective covering that surrounds the axons (or core) of nerve cells. This damage interferes with the transmission of nerve signals to the brain and the muscles may lose their ability to respond to the brain’s commands and function properly, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The nerve damage may cause rapidly progressive muscle weakness, numbness and tingling, a loss of reflexes, and sometimes paralysis. Classically, the symptoms of GBS begin in the legs and feet, and then the weakness and tingling ascends the body, spreading to the arms and fingers and affecting all four limbs simultaneously, said Dr. Ken Gorson, a professor of neurology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and the chair of the Global Medicine Advisory Board of GBS/CIDP Foundation International, a patient education and advocacy group for the disorder. Symptoms can also first start in the arms and work their way down the body to the legs and feet, he said.
Sometimes GBS symptoms spread to the face, where they may affect the muscles involved in breathing, swallowing and speaking. GBS is estimated to affect about one or two in every 100,000 people each year, Gorson told Live Science.

Causes and risk factors
GBS can affect people at any age, but it tends to peak in people in their 40s and 50s, and men are slightly more likely to get the disorder than women, Gorson said.
Although the exact cause of GBS is unknown, about two-thirds of people affected by it have a preceding infection or immune stimulus, such as the flu or a stomach bug, in their medical history, Gorson said. GBS symptoms usually first appear within a few days or weeks after the infection occurs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the following infections may trigger GBS:
Influenza virus
Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterial infection linked with undercooked chicken
Cytomegalovirus
Epstein-Barr virus
Zika virus
Hepatitis A, B, C and E
HIV
Mycoplasma pneumonia
Symptoms
Symptoms of GBS can range from mild to severe.
The muscle weakness seen in GBS usually comes on quickly and is symmetric, meaning it tends to be equal on both sides of the body, Gorson said. About two to four weeks after the first symptoms occur, people typically reach a point of greatest weakness, and then their symptoms may plateau, where they don’t continue to get worse for a period of weeks or months, he said. The plateau period is followed by a slow recovery phase.
Because nerves control a person’s ability to move as well as many other body functions, the symptoms of GBS can have widespread effects.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of GBS may include:
Weakness in the legs that may lead to an inability to walk or climb stairs and possibly to paralysis
Tingling, numbness, pins-and-needles sensation in the feet and hands
Nerve pain, which can be severe, especially at night
Breathing difficulties may occur if muscle weakness or paralysis spread to breathing muscles. Some people may temporarily need a ventilator, or breathing machine, during this stage of the illness.
Other facial muscles, including those involved in speaking, chewing or swallowing could be affected, and vision problems may occur.
Problems with bladder or bowel control
Abnormal heart rate or blood pressure

Diagnosis & tests

To make a diagnosis of GBS, a neurologist will consider whether the person has symptoms on both sides of the body as well as how quickly symptoms have first appeared and whether there is a reduction or loss of deep tendon reflexes in the legs or arms, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
In addition, two diagnostic tests may be performed. These tests include:
Lumbar puncture: Also known as a spinal tap, a needle is inserted into the lower back to withdraw a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid, a liquid that surrounds the spinal cord and brain. The fluid from this procedure is then sent to a lab for analysis. People with GBS have a high concentration of protein in their cerebrospinal fluid, but a normal white blood cell count.
Electromyogram (EMG): Thin electrodes are inserted into weak muscles to measure nerve activity and muscle function. The test can show whether nerve impulses are blocked from activating muscles.

Treatment

A person with GBS is typically hospitalized because symptoms tend to come on suddenly and can worsen quickly during the early stage of the illness, creating the need to monitor a patient closely.
There are currently two options used to treat GBS. One of them is plasma exchange (plasmapheresis) and the other is intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, referred to as IVIg. Both treatments are considered equally effective, but only one of the two treatments is needed.

Treatment is effective in speeding up the recovery from GBS and shortening its severity, Gorson told Live Science.

Plasma exchange is a more invasive treatment, and it requires specialized equipment and nursing care, Gorson said. It had been the standard treatment method for GBS in the 1980s and ’90s, but immunoglobulin has become the preferred treatment because it is easier to administer to patients and is more widely available in hospitals, he explained.

Immunoglobulin therapy. A person receives high doses of immunoglobulin, a blood product that helps to decrease the immune system’s attack on the nervous system. It does this by giving the patient healthy antibodies from blood donors intravenously to replace the harmful antibodies that have been damaging the nervous system.

Plasma exchange is a blood-cleansing procedure that removes harmful antibodies from the bloodstream that may be damaging myelin. The procedure involves removing the patient’s plasma, or the liquid portion of blood, and then using a machine to separate it from the other blood components. The removed plasma, which contains the antibodies that have been damaging nerves, is discarded and is replaced with a plasma substitute, which is returned to the patient’s bloodstream along with the other blood components.

In addition, physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process from GBS, and can help a person regain muscle strength and function as damaged nerves begin to heal.
Depending on the severity of the illness, recovery of nerve and muscle function can be a lengthy process lasting anywhere from months to a few years. Some people may experience lingering pain, weakness and fatigue.
The vast majority of people with GBS recover to walk and live independently after having it, Gorson said. And the disorder is very unlikely to recur in people, he noted.

Australia’s Devastating Wildfires Seen from Space


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Australia’s Devastating Wildfires Seen from Space

By Doris Elin Salazar – Space.com Staff Writer 2 days ago

The Australian wildfires can be viewed in incredible detail via NASA’s Worldview tool.

The Worldview tool from NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) shows this scene on Jan. 2, 2020, as wildfires continue in their intensity along the southeastern coast of Australia.

The Worldview tool from NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) shows this scene on Jan. 2, 2020, as wildfires continue in their intensity along the southeastern coast of Australia. (Image credit: NASA EOSDIS)
Satellites in space can spot changes to Earth’s climate, and they are providing frightening bird’s-eye views of the devastating consequences of global warming.
The wildfires raging in the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria began in November 2019, and they continue to pose severe safety and environmental problems. NBC News reported that thousands of Australians fled their homes on New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31), seeking refuge near the oceanside. On Thursday (Jan. 2) NBC News also reported that New South Wales declared a weeklong state of emergency, making this the third time an emergency period has been announced since the fires began.

“My last day of the decade felt like the apocalypse,” Sydney-based photojournalist Matt Abbott tweeted on Dec. 31. Abbott, who is covering the wildfires for The New York Times, added: “Been covering the Australian bushfires for the last 6 weeks, but haven’t seen anything like yesterday’s fire that decimated the town of Conjola, NSW.”
Related: Astronaut Sees Devastating California Wildfires from Space (Photos)

View image on Twitter

Information from NASA satellites can teach scientists about the lingering consequences of these events, like the production of dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide.
NASA operates a group of 26 satellites collectively known as the Earth Observing System (EOS), and its flagship satellite, a bus-sized spacecraft named Terra, hit its 20-year mark in space in December 2019. Other NASA satellites, like Aqua and Suomi NPP, also contribute data to EOS, a mission tasked with taking global measurements of the air, land and water to help scientists learn how those systems fit together and morph over time.
The Worldview tool from NASA’s EOS Data and Information System transforms satellite data into an interactive page with over 900 imagery layers. You can view current natural disasters, like the Australian wildfires, on Worldview by date and information layer (such as thermal anomalies, borders and place labels). You can also watch an animation of activity by selecting a time range.
A look at Australia’s surface starting in October 2019 shows the astounding evolution of wildfires as they multiplied and spewed smoke across Australia’s eastern shore.

NASA's Aqua satellite used its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to capture this view of wildfires raging on Australia's eastern coast on Dec. 9, 2019. The wildfires were fueled by unusually hot weather and a potent drought that primed the region in October 2019, according to the space agency.
NASA’s Aqua satellite used its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to capture this view of wildfires raging on Australia’s eastern coast on Dec. 9, 2019. The wildfires were fueled by unusually hot weather and a potent drought that primed the region in October 2019, according to the space agency. (Image credit: NASA EOSDIS)
A severe drought in October 2019 primed the country for the destruction that’s still occurring. More than 100 fires raged over the next several months. By Dec. 12, the wildfires in Australia’s New South Wales had scourged an area of about 10,000 square miles (27,000 square kilometers), according to NASA representatives in a description of satellite imagery.
The wildfires are raging on Australia’s eastern coast, exposing many communities, including Sydney, to hazardous pollution levels. The Measurements of Pollution in the Troposphere instrument on the Terra satellite found that the region is blanketed by abnormally high levels of carbon monoxide, an odorless and dangerous gas that’s released by the burning of plants and fossil fuels.

This map depicts measurements of outgoing longwave radiation in November 2019. The data on Australia's heat emission comes from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System on board NASA's Terra satellite.

This map depicts measurements of outgoing longwave radiation in November 2019. The data on Australia’s heat emission comes from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System on board NASA’s Terra satellite. (Image credit: EOS-Terra/NASA)
The fires have been particularly damaging to eucalyptus forests. The forests exist in both dry and rainy regions, and both climates are vulnerable to the wildfires for unique reasons. Eucalyptus plants that thrive in dry areas have oil-rich leaves that can easily ignite during a fire, according to a NASA description of the EOS imagery. Fires do help these plants release their seeds, but the dry season in October was so intense that it limited seed germination. Rainforest eucalyptus species, on the other hand, are not accustomed to fires. The ecosystem can’t bounce back the way a dry eucalyptus forest could under milder conditions. Unable to tolerate the flames, most of these rainforest plants die under these extreme conditions.
An instrument on NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite observed the unusually hot and dry conditions of November 2019 that fueled the wildfires. The sensor, called the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System, measures the heat emitted back into space. The instrument measured how the sun’s radiation was absorbed, emitted and reflected by Earth’s surface during the first month of the wildfires.
The flames destroy forests and make the air unbreathable for humans, but they also harm the animals that live there. “Browsing animals like kangaroos are driven out by fire for a short time, and the heat treatment of soil reduces the number of plant-eating insects and soil organisms during the early growth period,” Ayesha Tulloch, a conservation biologist at the University of Sydney, said in a NASA image description.

This animation is a model of where the black smoke from the raging Australian wildfires is traveling. It's based off of the GEOS forward processing (GEOS FP) model, which combines information from satellite, aircraft and ground-based observation systems and uses data such as air temperature, moisture levels and wind information to project the plume's behavior.

This animation is a model of where the black smoke from the raging Australian wildfires is traveling. It’s based off of the GEOS forward processing (GEOS FP) model, which combines information from satellite, aircraft and ground-based observation systems and uses data such as air temperature, moisture levels and wind information to project the plume’s behavior. (Image credit: GEOS FP/NASA GSFC)

Many koalas have also been affected, or even killed, by these fires. “But the range of the koala covers most [of] the east coast of Australia,” Tulloch said. “Relative to its range, the fires are relevant to only a very small proportion of the existing koala population in Australia.”
An animation made using the GEOS forward processing (GEOS -FP) model depicts the high levels of black carbon emitted by the wildfires in early November 2019, which then blew through the atmosphere and across the Pacific Ocean. Smoke plumes have risen as high as 7 to 8 miles (12 to 13 km) into the sky, which is unusually high for wildfires, according to a NASA description of the animation.