Holds water: Harvesting rain could help Caribbean countries after hurricanes

August 10, 2018 by  
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A new model of this ancient technology could improve communities’ access to fresh water both after storms and day-to-day.

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Holds water: Harvesting rain could help Caribbean countries after hurricanes

Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

February 22, 2018 by  
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According to the ancient Romans, the Mediterranean is riddled with places where mortals can access the underworld. These “gates to hell” (or Plutoniums) are marked by stone structures, and some of them, like a cave in Hierapolis (now modern-day Turkey ) seem to have supernatural powers. Ancient Romans would bring animals into the mysterious haze inside the cave, where they would swiftly die. Now, scientists have answered the mystery of what is killing these animals and how humans could escape seemingly unscathed. According to the ancient Romans, humans would enter the grotto as part of a ritualistic sacrifice and leave unharmed, while animals would quickly die. The Greek geographer Strabo once said, “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death. I threw in sparrows and they immediately breathed their last and fell.” Some believed that the vapor was the breath of the hellhound Kerberos. Legend also has it that even birds flying by would drop out of the air. Related: Egyptians discover three sunken ships full of 2,000-year-old treasure Scientists have found that the cause of this deadly mist is actually carbon dioxide from a volcanic fissure in the earth underneath the cave. Concentrations of carbon dioxide are stronger towards the ground, which helps explain why animals were impacted more than humans. The time of day also impacts its concentration, with wind and sunlight dispersing the vapor. That means that nighttime, and particularly right before dawn, are the deadliest times to enter the cave. At dawn, concentrations are strong enough to kill a human within a minute. Researchers believe that priests participating in the rituals understood that the higher you were from the ground, the longer you could stand in the cave, making them to appear to have supernatural powers. They may have also adjusted the time that they entered the cave to coincide with lower concentrations. The cave was actually forgotten until just seven years ago, but the mystery around it has remained. Brave researchers, led by Hardy Pfanz at the University of Duisburg-Essen , wanted to understand the enigma, so they examined the grotto in detail. Pfanz’s method could be used to help solve the mysteries of other Plutoniums as well. Via IFL Science Images via Chris Parfitt and Carole Raddato

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Scientists solve the mystery of Turkey’s deadly ‘Gate to Hell’

Ancient papyrus scroll offers insight into Great Pyramid of Giza mystery

September 27, 2017 by  
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Ancient Egyptians moved more than 170,000 tons of limestone to construct the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Archaeologists have long puzzled over just how they accomplished that feat, but papyrus rolls found by a French-Egyptian team offers some insight. In 2013 , researcher Pierre Tallet came across papyrus written by men who helped with the Great Pyramid of Giza’s construction. The papyrus was found in a set of caves used for boat storage in Wadi-al-Jarf, in a remote desert area. Tallet said in the Channel 4 documentary Egypt’s Great Pyramid: The New Evidence , aired this month, “Since the very day of the discovery it was quite evident that we have the oldest papyrus ever found in the world.” Related: Newly discovered Kazakhstan pyramid may be older than certain Egyptian pyramids Among the documents was the journal of an official never heard of before, named Merer. Tallet has spent the past four years deciphering Merer’s words, including his claim that stone was brought to the pyramids via boat – which adds up, since archaeologists found boat remains near the pyramids. Boats transported limestone to the building site via canals dug for that purpose along the Nile River. Then, according to IFLScience, the stone blocks were rolled on special tracks to arrive at the site. The limestone came from Tora, around eight miles away from Giza, and granite used in the great pyramid came from even farther: more than 500 miles south in Aswan. According to IFLScience, the same kind of boats that brought the limestone to the site could have been used to bring granite from Aswan. The Great Pyramid, Pharaoh Khufu’s tomb, was constructed more than 4,000 years ago, and is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that remains intact. Via The Independent , IFLScience , and Smithsonian.com Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient papyrus scroll offers insight into Great Pyramid of Giza mystery

Research suggests humans emerged 2.8M years ago amid major climate change event

May 18, 2017 by  
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Mystery still shrouds much of the story of our origins, but new Arizona State University (ASU) research sheds new light on why we first emerged where and when we did. Around 2.8 million years ago our genus, Homo , could have emerged in a valley in Ethiopia . It was a time of change on that Earth long ago; it appears forest landscapes altered into grassy ones where our ancient ancestors lived. Back in 2013 an ASU team discovered a jawbone with teeth at Ledi-Geraru, and the incredible find is the oldest evidence of Homo we’ve yet found and dates back around 2.8 million years. The find was 400,000 years older than other fossils we’d discovered to that point. Building on that discovery, ASU scientists hoped to answer two questions: why did humans emerge in Ethiopia’s lower Awash Valley, and why did they emerge at that point in time? Related: New ‘Hobbit’ fossils provide a glimpse into human relative Animal fossils help scientists recreate the conditions of the past – what they ate help indicate the environment in those days. Scientists discovered that the animals found with the 2.8 million-year-old Homo fed on grass, seeming to support the guesses of many in the scientific community humanity emerged as grassy environments were spreading in a period of global cooling. According to IBTimes UK, the landscape in which early humans lived would have been similar to today’s Serengeti region. Scientist Joshua Robinson said evidence had hinted at the connection between the emergence of humans and the spread of those grassy, open environments, “but, until now, we had not direct environmental data for the origins of Homo now that it’s been pushed back in time.” The 2.8 million date is also incredibly important for the fossil record. The famous Lucy fossil ( Australopithecus ), which dates to around 3.2 million years ago, was found just around 18 miles west of ASU’s 2013 discovery. But the geological sequence ended around 2.95 million years ago, until the recent findings. ASU researcher John Rowan said although Lucy’s species endured many environmental changes, it appears they didn’t last through the ancient climate change as open environments spread. The diet of early humans was still very similar to what Lucy would have consumed, however. The ASU research was published online this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution . Four ASU scientists worked on the study with one geoscientist from the University of South Florida . Via Arizona State University and IBTimes UK Images via Kaye Reed/Phys.org and Josh Robinson/Arizona State University

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Research suggests humans emerged 2.8M years ago amid major climate change event

Hundreds of ancient earthworks similar to Stonehenge found in the Amazon

February 7, 2017 by  
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For hundreds of years, the Amazon rainforest concealed over 450 massive, mysterious earthworks similar to those in Stonehenge . As a result of deforestation , researchers were able to catch a glimpse of the baffling geometrical geoglyphs in Brazil’s Acre state. The 2,000-year-old earthworks reveal a wealth of information we didn’t know before about how ancient people managed the rainforest . Many people used to think the Amazon rainforest ecosystem remained largely untouched by humans in the past, an idea challenged by the recent discovery of these huge earthworks. Led by Jennifer Watling of the University of São Paulo and the University of Exeter , a team reconstructed fire and vegetation history over 6,000 years near two of the geoglyphs, and found humans actually changed the bamboo forests heavily for millennia. They temporarily cleared areas to build the earthworks. Related: Archaeologists reveal fresh details about 4,500-year-old “New Stonehenge” As researchers didn’t find many artifacts around the earthworks, the sites probably weren’t villages, and their layout prompts researchers to think they weren’t used for defense. Instead, the ancient geoglyphs may have been utilized only once in a while for ritual gatherings. Watling cautions against excusing rampant deforestation based on this new information. Her team’s research shows while ancient people altered the rainforest, they did not employ long term, large-scale deforestation as happens today, or burn swaths of forest. Instead they employed ancient agroforestry practices and focused on economically valuable trees like palms to create what the University of Exeter describes as a prehistoric supermarket of products from the forest. Watling said, “Our evidence that Amazonian forests have been managed by indigenous peoples long before European Contact should not be cited as justification for the destructive, unsustainable land-use practiced today. It should instead serve to highlight the ingenuity of past subsistence regimes that did not lead to forest degradation, and the importance of indigenous knowledge for finding more sustainable land use alternatives.” Nine other researchers from institutions in Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Canada joined Watling in the research; the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published their study online this month. Via Phys.org Images via Jenny Watling/Phys.org

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Hundreds of ancient earthworks similar to Stonehenge found in the Amazon

This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels

January 15, 2017 by  
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Through his quest to reconnect to his roots, Barnes isolated several traditional strains of seeds that fell to the wayside when his ancestors traveled to what’s now Oklahoma in the 1800s . Through years of selective growing , Barnes grew corn that looks bejeweled, creating a colorful celebration of native heirloom varieties of corn. Related: Plant a Wish Restores Native Plant Habitats Around America Barnes didn’t hoard the wealth, however, sharing corn seeds with Native American tribe elders and other growers he encountered. According to SeedBroadcast , “…he was able to reintroduce specific corn types to the elders of those tribes, and this helped their people in reclaiming their cultural and spiritual identities. Their corn was, to them, literally the same as their blood line, their language, and their sense of who they were.” One such grower was Greg Schoen. The two became friends in the early ’90s , and Schoen took the rainbow corn to a new level, creating hybrids by planting the rainbow corn next to typical yellow corn. Schoen eventually passed the seeds to the non-profit organization Native Seeds/SEARCH , who now sell the seeds online . They also protect the seeds in a bank containing around 2,000 rare varieties . Native Seeds/SEARCH began during a project to design sustainable food sources with Native Americans. They continually heard that people wanted to plant the seeds their grandparents did , so the organization started to protect ” endangered traditional seeds ” and the diversity of plants present specifically in the American Southwest. The fabulous corn kernels possess an outer layer tougher than most , which means they aren’t the best for backyard corn-on-the-cob chomping, but they can be either ground for cornmeal or popped like popcorn. You can purchase a packet of the seeds for $4.95 here , and profits go right back to the organization to continue their conservation efforts. Via My Modern Met and Lost At E Minor Images via Glass Gem Corn Facebook

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This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels

Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

How to keep your head during a U.S. presidential transition

December 8, 2016 by  
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Watch these four indicators, and remember four words from Ancient Rome.

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How to keep your head during a U.S. presidential transition

Why IBM sees blockchain as a breakthrough for traceability

December 8, 2016 by  
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The tech giant is behind two intriguing supply chain projects, with more to come.

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Why IBM sees blockchain as a breakthrough for traceability

How Dow Chemical is taking on the SDGs

December 8, 2016 by  
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The chemical company formulates plans for “redefining the role of business in society.”

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How Dow Chemical is taking on the SDGs

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