Discovery of ancient middle finger bone completely upends what we know about human migration

April 9, 2018 by  
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Archaeologists have discovered an ancient middle finger bone in Saudia Arabia, and it could completely change what we know about human migration. An 85,000-year-old bone belonging to Homo sapiens marks the first evidence of humans that scientists have found in the Nefud Desert. This is also the first time Homo sapiens bones of that age have been discovered anywhere outside Africa. The current theory of human migration posits that Homo sapiens migrated en masse in a movement known as “Out of Africa” about 60,000 years ago in a single, contained wave. But this newly-discovered bone suggests that people migrated out of Africa in multiple different phases, at least 20,000 years earlier than we thought. Related: Incredible fossil discovery rewrites the history of human migration out of Africa Archaeologists unearthed the 1.25-inch middle finger bone in 2016, and researchers used a CT scan to form a 3D model of the entire bone, which showed conclusively that it belonged to Homo sapiens.  Nature  published news of the discovery this week. “What our discovery shows is that the early spread of Homo sapiens was much more spatially widespread than we thought,” said lead study author Huw Groucutt of the University of Oxford . Via CNN Images via Flickr  and Nature

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Discovery of ancient middle finger bone completely upends what we know about human migration

Trump administration prioritizes rural areas over cities in infrastructure spending

April 9, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration has re-prioritized which kinds of communities, and what kinds of projects, receive funding from the popular $500 million transportation grant program known as TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery). “More than 64 percent of this round of TIGER funding was awarded to rural projects, a historic number that demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting the country’s rural communities,” the Transportation Department said when it announced the grant recipients in March. Democratic strongholds such as New York City , Chicago and Los Angeles received zero funding from these grants, while projects in blue states that were funded focused primarily on those states’ Trump-supporting regions. This means much more money for rural roads and rail projects, and less for bike infrastructure, green-ways, and sustainable urban design projects. The TIGER grant program was first established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus package or economic recovery bill, under President Obama . While the discretionary funds are an important tool for the White House, they represent only a small percentage of the Department of Transportation’s distribution of $50 billion each year through the highway trust fund. After trying to eliminate the program twice, Trump recently signed a massive spending bill into law that tripled the program’s budget. Now, it seems, his administration has found a use for TIGER. Related: 69% of Republicans believe global warming’s seriousness is “generally exaggerated” Trump is not the first president to be accused of using the program to favor his political supporters. In 2013, at the start of President Obama’s second term, two-thirds of the TIGER infrastructure funding went to districts represented by Democrats in Congress. Much of this Obama-era funding went towards projects such as bike and pedestrian infrastructure while sometimes giving only the bare minimum required by law to rural areas. In addition to its shift towards rural communities, the Trump Administration, with its well-publicized focus on trade, is also prioritizing upgrades to port infrastructure in Alabama, Maryland and Louisiana. Via ABC News Images via Depositphotos   (1)

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Trump administration prioritizes rural areas over cities in infrastructure spending

Most active volcano in Europe ‘sliding into the sea’

March 27, 2018 by  
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Volcanic eruptions or lava flows you’ve heard of, but what about a volcano sliding into the sea? Scientists say that’s exactly what’s happening to Mount Etna, which The Open University described as the most active volcano in Europe. It’s the first time scientists have directly observed anything like it, and it could have disturbing consequences in the future. “Constant movement could contribute to a major landslide along Etna’s coast, causing devastating tsunamis to surrounding areas.” Mount Etna in Italy is headed towards the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers have observed parts of volcanoes move, but according to the BBC , these scientists think this is the first time anyone has directly observed basement sliding of a whole active volcano. They drew on 11 years of GPS measurements all over Etna to make the discovery. Related: Mount Etna eruption creates a display of fire, ash, and lightning over Sicily The Open University ‘s John Murray, lead author of the study on the work, said Mount Etna is moving 14 millimeters (mm) a year toward the Mediterranean. “While 14 mm might not seem much, previous studies of long-extinct volcanoes found those sliding downslope in a similar way have resulted in catastrophic landslides later in their history,” Murray said in the university’s statement. Should we be worried? Etna might not slide into the sea in our lifetimes, so local residents needn’t be afraid, but “continued sliding for hundreds or thousands of years could cause it to become dangerously unstable,” Murray said. He told the BBC scientists should monitor the motion to see if it accelerates. Mount Etna’s movement may impact research today, however; Murray said it could interfere with signals that clue scientists into where magma is. It could be trickier to monitor the likelihood of an eruption. The Bulletin of Volcanology published the research online late last week; scientists from Université Clermont Auvergne in France and Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom contributed. + The Open University + Bulletin of Volcanology Via the BBC Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Most active volcano in Europe ‘sliding into the sea’

Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change

March 8, 2018 by  
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Lawyers will present climate change science in what could be the first-ever court hearing in the United States on the topic, McClatchy Washington Bureau reported . Lawyers for BP , Exxon , Chevron , and other oil companies will go up against lawyers for the California cities of Oakland and San Francisco after United States District Judge William Alsup ordered “a two-part tutorial on the subject of global warming and climate change .” Sabin Center for Climate Change Law executive director Michael Burger told McClatchy, “This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date.” San Francisco and Oakland filed lawsuits against BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell “alleging that the Big Oil giants are responsible for the cities’ costs of protecting themselves from a global warming-induced sea level rise , including expenses to construct seawalls to protect the two cities’ more than five million residents,” according to Hagens Berman , the firm representing the California cities. In late February, Alsup ordered the tutorial, which is to take place on March 21. Related: This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change Experts on both sides said they hadn’t heard of a call like this before. Physicist Steven Koonin, who served as an Energy Department Under Secretary for Science under Barack Obama and also penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “ Climate Science Is Not Settled ,” told McClatchy, “I don’t know of any judge who has asked for a tutorial like this. I think it is a great idea. Anybody having to make a decision about climate science needs to understand the full spectrum of what we know and what we don’t know.” The first part of the tutorial will cover “the history of the scientific study of climate change;” each side will have an hour to delve into “scientific inquiry into the formation and melting of the ice ages , periods of historical cooling and warming, smog , ozone , nuclear winter, volcanoes , and global warming.” The second part, for which each side again has one hour, will cover “the best science now available” regarding global warming, sea rise, coastal flooding, and glacier melt. + United States District Court for the Northern District of California Via McClatchy Washington Bureau Images via Jeff Head on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change

Believed tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than previously thought

December 7, 2017 by  
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Scientists have discovered that the tomb in which Jesus Christ is believed to have been buried after his crucifixion is significantly older than previously known. According to results given to National Geographic , archaeologists tested a sample of mortar taken from a limestone tomb beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and found the cave dates back 345 CE. Previous evidence had indicated that the cave, the oldest architectural structure on site, was built during the Crusader period, around 1000 CE. According to historical records, the tomb is thought to have been rediscovered, after a period of obscurity, by the Romans in 326 CE. This rediscovery occurred during the reign of Constantine, the Roman leader who converted the Empire to Christianity. The recent discovery was made possible by the tomb’s opening on October 26, 2016. Within the tomb, scientists were surprised to discover an older, fractured marble slab, which rested on the original limestone surface of the “burial bed,” where it is believed that Jesus’s body was placed. Some researchers suspected that this older marble may have been placed during the Crusader Period, while others believed that the slab may have been even older. Upon further testing, it was determined that the slab dated back to Constantine-era Jerusalem. In order to determine the tomb’s age, scientists analyzed chemicals found within the slab to determine how long it is has been since they were last exposed to light. It was also discovered that a significant portion of the tomb remains sealed off. Related: Pope Francis Officially Endorses Evolution and The Big Bang Theory The Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the caves below it have undergone great changes over the millennia. Following the discovery and reconstruction of the tomb in the 4th century, the Church was completely destroyed in 1099, then subsequently rebuilt. This destruction led scientists to question whether the site could ever be conclusively identified as the location, as determined by the Constantine-era Romans, of Christ’s tomb. While there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was buried in the tomb, the recent discoveries help to clarify the complex history surrounding Christianity’s holiest shrine. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Believed tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than previously thought

Larch-clad extension breathes new life into an old hunting lodge in Canada

November 15, 2017 by  
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This quaint hunting lodge in Canada  has had several different lives before being turned into a cozy family home nestled in the woods. The new owners commissioned architect Anik Péloquin to design an extension that would echo the architecture of the original building, while blending in with the stunning surroundings. The resulting two-volume structure is clad in larch wood fits in perfectly and breathes new life into the lodge. The small house, located on a secluded lakeside lot in La Malbaie, Canada, was used as a hunting lodge for the first three decades, before becoming the summer home for the Sisters of Charity. Instead of renovating the house, the new owners decided to build an additional space and use the existing structure as a guesthouse . Related: Extraordinary treehouse is a climber’s dream with its own indoor climbing wall The two volumes as referred to as siblings, with the new house–“the little sister”–housing two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and lounge areas. Modest in size, the structure keeps with the general look of its “big sister”. It is clad in larch and features a steep shed roof that harmonizes with the existing structure and the landscape. The roof overhang on the west and south sides keep the outside walls low and consistent with the scale of the old house. The steep roof pitch rises on the east and north side and reminds of a church steeple, thus evoking the history of the site. + Anik Péloquin architecte Via V2com Photos by Louis Prud’homme

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Larch-clad extension breathes new life into an old hunting lodge in Canada

Cards Against Humanity buys land on the US-Mexico border to block Trump’s wall

November 15, 2017 by  
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You may have gotten some laughs from the irreverent Cards Against Humanity game in the past, but now the people behind the “party game for horrible people” have a higher objective: stop Donald Trump’s border wall. The company bought land on the border and worked with a law firm to make it harder for the Trump administration to act on its plan – and they asked fans to chip in $15 for a piece of the land in their new Cards Against Humanity Saves America campaign. Cards Against Humanity doesn’t want to see a United States-Mexico border wall erected, so they’re working to thwart Trump with their recent land purchase. On their campaign page, they said, “Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans. He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing. So we’ve purchased a plot of vacant land on the border and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built.” Related: Provocative street art installation shows baby peering over US-Mexico border wall Those who gave Cards Against Humanity $15 earned “six America-saving surprises” during the holidays. The company has been quiet about most of the surprises, but they did say backers could expect an illustrated map of the land they purchased, new cards, and a certificate of their promise to battle Trump’s border wall. Other surprises are set to be delivered in December. The campaign seems to have resonated with Americans – The Washington Post reported it sold out in hours. This isn’t the first time Cards Against Humanity has gotten political , using humor to draw attention to current issues. For example, earlier this year they created a Weed Pack and donated proceeds to the Marijuana Public Policy Project to fight for legalization. They also sent potatoes to Republican Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson to persuade him to hold a town hall about the Affordable Care Act. + Cards Against Humanity Saves America Images via Cards Against Humanity Saves America and Anthony Albright on Flickr

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Cards Against Humanity buys land on the US-Mexico border to block Trump’s wall

Villagers in Peru stumble across what may be an ancient Inca city

October 17, 2017 by  
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Locals in the southern rainforest of Peru may have stumbled across an Inca city while grazing cattle. The Provincial Municipality of La Convención shared images of the site, close to the National Sanctuary of Megantoni. In a space around two hectares big, residents found houses, walls, passageways, platforms, and streets that could date all the way back to the Inca civilization . Villagers told local authorities of their find – which occurred on September 9 – and returned with officials to take another look at what could be an old Inca citadel that had been covered by vegetation. La Convención mayor Wilfredo Alagon said he would report the find to the Decentralized Culture Directorate of Cusco (DDCC), and monument management body head Jorge Yabar Zamalloa told the Andina news agency they have sent an archaeologist to the site to put together a technical report. Related: 2,000-year-old pre-Aztec ancient palace complex found in Mexico Structures made with stone can be glimpsed in the photographs, which have been presented as evidence for the city, according to Andina. There’s no firm date attached to the archaeological remains as of yet – although the Inca civilization flourished between 1,425 C.E. and 1,532 C.E. in South America, according to the non-profit organization Ancient History Encyclopedia . The Inca civilization often utilized stone in buildings. In a 2014 article , Ancient History Encyclopedia writer Mark Cartwright said, “Inca architecture includes some of the most finely worked stone structures from any ancient civilization…it typically incorporated the natural landscape yet at the same time managed to dominate it to create an often spectacular blend of geometrical and natural forms.” Alagon said they’ll take measures to protect these remains, according to Archaeology. Via Archaeology , Provincial Municipality of La Convención , and Andina Images via Provincial Municipality of La Convención

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Villagers in Peru stumble across what may be an ancient Inca city

Gorgeous billboards by street artist Kelsey Montague are being recycled into one-of-a-kind bags

July 19, 2017 by  
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Kelsey Montague  is best known for her murals of sprawling angel wings, flocks of dragonflies, and other flights of fancy. Now, fans will be able to tote her work wherever they roam. After a stint as a featured #ArtLives artist for Rareform —a company that turns billboards into one-of-a-kind bags and accessories—Montague will receive the label’s signature treatment. For two weeks, billboards promoting Montague’s work held court near the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the L.A. Forum on West Century Boulevard. After being taken down, the banners are being chopped up and remade into 50 backpacks, 130 tote bags, and 80 accessory bags. Once complete, the accessories will be available for sale at the IFF Shop in Montague’s native Denver, as well as online at www.rareform.com and www.kelseymontagueart.com . Related: New pollution-fighting billboards can purify 100,000 cubic meters of air every day “This type of event lets us revolutionize how people see outdoor advertisements and transforms art into new forms,” Rareform said on its blog . “Own a little piece of art that has seen the skyline of Los Angeles and has been viewed by millions.” Montague followed the footsteps of fellow artists Tyler Ramsey and Milton Glaser when she participated in Rareform’s third #ArtLives series in Los Angeles on June 26. + Kelsey Montague + Rareform

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Gorgeous billboards by street artist Kelsey Montague are being recycled into one-of-a-kind bags

Ultralight NAWA sculpture continually changes its appearance throughout the day

June 27, 2017 by  
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Bionics, art, and public space merge in NAWA, a striking sculpture designed by Oskar Zi?ta of Zieta Prozessdesign for the European Capital of Culture 2016 celebrations. Created to match the celebrations’ slogan of “metamorphoses of culture,” this ultralight mirrored installation changes it appearance, which differs depending on where viewers stand and the time of day. The unveiling of the avante-garde sculpture on Daliowa Island of Wroc?aw in western Poland will take place on June 30, 2017. Inspired by bionic shapes, the 100-square-meter NAWA comprises 35 steel arches of varying sizes to create an openwork gate through which people can walk. The polished steel arches reflect the changing surroundings, thus giving the sculpture a continually changing appearance. The choice of arches is also a reference to the nearby landmarks including the Ossolineum, the church’s tower at Piasek, Wroclaw Market Hall, and Ostrów Tumski. “NAWA opens another chapter in the history of the Daliowa Island, returning it to the dwellers of Wroclaw,” wrote Zieta Prozessdesign. “The space is currently being revitalized and very soon will serve the city, becoming a bustling, open space for meetings, concerts and artistic events. Sculpture along with planned vegetation will create a consistent organic unity, emerging naturally from the river. At the same time, the realization will fit perfectly into the architectural order of the area and its vibrant life, full of tourists and passers-by.” Related: Tiny Mirrored Cabin Reflects the Ontario Landscape NAWA is ultra-lightweight thanks to FiDU, an innovative technology developed by Zieta Prozessdesign that distorts welded steel with compressed air. Almost 52 tonnes of steel and a million cubic meters of air were used for the sculpture. In addition to the installation of NAWA, around 7,500 new plants will be seeded on Daliowa Island. + Zieta Prozessdesign

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Ultralight NAWA sculpture continually changes its appearance throughout the day

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