MonthJune 2008

The Mystery Story of the Maya Slowly Reveals New Twists

“Don’t tell Indiana Jones, but most archaeologists pack spades, not bullwhips, and big discoveries usually come after lots of digging, not looting. Maya discoveries in Mexico that are rewriting the history of this classic civilization, for example, are coming from years of careful digging, not looted idols.

The classic Maya were part of a Central American civilization best known for stepped pyramids, beautiful carvings and murals and the widespread abandonment of cities around 900 A.D. in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, leaving the Maya only the northern lowlands of the Yucatan peninsula. The conventional wisdom of this upheaval is that many Maya moved north at the time of this collapse, also colonizing the hilly “Puuc” region of the Yucatan for a short while, until those new cities collapsed as well.

But that story of the Maya is wrong, suggests archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who is co-leading an investigation of the abandoned city of Kiuic with Mexican archaeologist Tomas Gallareta of Mexico’s National Institute of Archaeology and History. “Our work indicates that instead the Puuc region was occupied for almost 2,000 years before the collapse in the south,” says Bey, by e-mail.”

(via USA Today. h/t: The Daily Grail)

Is the universe a fractal?

fractal universe

Is the matter in the universe arranged in a fractal pattern? A new study of nearly a million galaxies suggests it is – though there are no well-accepted theories to explain why that would be so.
Cosmologists trying to reconstruct the entire history of the universe have precious few clues from which to work. One key clue is the distribution of matter throughout space, which has been sculpted for nearly 14 billion years by the competing forces of gravity and cosmic expansion. If there is a pattern in the sky, it encodes the secrets of the universe.
A lot is at stake, and the matter distribution has become a source of impassioned debate between those who say the distribution is smooth and homogeneous and those who say it is hierarchically structured and clumpy, like a fractal.

Full Story: New Scientist

(via Kurzweil)

The art of Ronald Kurniawan

ronald kurniawan

The art of Ronald Kurniawan

(via Changethought)

Follow-up to uncontacted tribe story

This is kinda weird:

They are the amazing pictures that were beamed around the globe: a handful of warriors from an ‘undiscovered tribe’ in the rainforest on the Brazilian-Peruvian border brandishing bows and arrows at the aircraft that photographed them.

Or so the story was told and sold. But it has now emerged that, far from being unknown, the tribe’s existence has been noted since 1910 and the mission to photograph them was undertaken in order to prove that ‘uncontacted’ tribes still existed in an area endangered by the menace of the logging industry.

Full Story: Guardian Observer

I just re-read the original story from the Daily Mail, and I don’t see any mention of the idea that this was a previously unknown tribe, merely uncontacted. In fact, it’s noted in the article that this was just one of about 100 uncontacted tribes in the world. I also looked at the Survival International site when the story broke and didn’t get the idea from that site that this tribe was a new discovery. So if they were trying to mislead me, they failed. It sounds more like a lot of people have poor reading comprehension skills rather than deception on the part of Survival International.

Update: Ross at Ectoplasmosis has pretty much the same reaction I do

Earth ‘not at risk’ from collider

Our planet is not at risk from the world’s most powerful particle physics experiment, a report has concluded.

The document addresses fears that the Large Hadron Collider is so energetic, it could have unforeseen consequences.

Critics are worried that mini-black holes made at the soon-to-open facility on the French-Swiss border might threaten the Earth’s very existence.

But the report, issued the European Organization for Nuclear Research, says there is “no conceivable danger”.

Full Story: BBC

Rotterdam graffiti

rotterdamn graffiti

From Wooster

Urban Safaris: Graffiti Sites Considered for Heritage Protection

banksy house

Australia’s National Trust and Heritage Victoria are both supporting a move to protect the city’s graffiti, but some local council groups say this would just give a green light to vandals.

With the idea of graffiti as an art form in its own right gaining momentum locally and abroad, the National Trust has been considering its protection since 1999.

The Trust’s cultural heritage manager, Tracey Avery, says the protection of Melbourne’s graffiti will be debated at next week’s international conference on intangible heritage.

Full Story: Tomorrow Museum

10 Audacious Ideas to Save the Planet

tornado energy

Launch giant solar panels into orbit and send limitless clean energy back to Earth

Thousands of acres of super-hairy plants around the world reflect extra sunlight and cool down the globe

A modified nuclear reactor that produces 17,000 barrels of gasoline a day-enough to fuel 54,000 Honda Civics.

Sequester carbon dioxide in six-mile-long sausage-shaped plastic bags on the seafloor

Save six billion kilowatt-hours of energy annually (enough to power 20 million lightbulbs for a year) by blasting brew with supersonic streams of steam

Harness the warmth given off by millions of commuters and reduce global energy demand by 15 percent

Draw power from man-made twisters and light up entire cities

Turn civilization’s lowliest by-products-including human waste and animal carcasses-into clean-burning fuels for commuter transport

Capture 90,000 tons of urine every day from the world’s billion pigs and recycle it into plastic plates

Generate heat and electricity for small-town America using pint-size nuclear reactors that will run for 30 years with no refueling, maintenance or noxious diesel fumes

Full Story: Popular Science

(via < a href="">Kurzweil)

Some of these seem like better ideas than others…

See also: How Do We Intelligently Discuss Politicized Geoengineering?

Rice paddy art

rice paddy art

rice paddy art

More pics: Pink Tentacle

Always Look on the Dark Side of Life – The Birmingham Goth Scene

“Goths have been in the news recently for the most terrible of reasons. Last month a 20-year-old from Manchester spoke out after being beaten up by a gang who had mocked him for the way he looked. Stephen Jones, a Goth, had piercings and tattoos and wore his hair tied back in a ponytail. The case echoed the tragedy of Sophie Lancaster, also aged 20, who was murdered by a teenager in Lancashire. In the court case three months ago, it was said a gang had launched a vicious and unprovoked attack on Sophie and her boyfriend Robert Maltby, simply because they were dressed differently. They were Goths.

Adrian Crawley, who organises the quarterly Gothic Balls at the Bartons Arms in Aston, Birmingham, says he has always had to make the safety of those who attend a priority. ‘We make sure that nobody leaves on foot. It’s just because people are dressed differently from those in the surrounding area. ‘You have to be careful because you are bound to attract attention,’ he says.

But what is a Goth – other than someone who sometimes attracts hostile attention through piercings, jewellery and wearing black? In Birmingham, there are plenty that can answer that question for themselves. The city had a thriving Goth scene in the 80s and 90s and while it has gone more underground now, there are still those who meet and tell their stories:”

(via The Birmingham Post)

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