Oct 12, 2018


8-Year-Old Girl Discovers Iron Age Sword In Swedish Lake : NPR

Earlier this summer, an 8-year-old girl named Saga Vanecek was doing what she often does: wading in Sweden's Lake Vidostern.

"I like to walk around finding rocks and sticks in the water, and then I usually walk around with my hands and knees in the water and in the sand," she explained to Radio Sweden Wednesday.

It was then that she felt something odd beneath her hand and knee. She lifted the object and saw that it had a handle.

She pulled it out of the water and carried it over to her father. "Dad, I found a sword," she said.

. . .

"Indeed an amazing story!" Mikael Nordstrom, head of the cultural heritage department at the Jonkopings County Museum, told NPR in email. "We now believe that the sword is about 1,500 years old."

Bones of a Neanderthal Child Eaten by Giant Bird Discovered in Poland

Scientists have discovered the bones of a Neanderthal child who had been eaten by a giant bird. The finger bones appear to have come from a child aged between five and seven. Whether the bird attacked the child, or if it scavenged the bones, is not yet clear.

The remains, discovered in Poland, date back over 115,000 years. They are the oldest ever found in the country, and have provided researchers with new insight into how and where our ancient relatives lived. Before now,  the oldest human remains found in Poland dated to around 50,000 years.

Researchers from Jagiellonian University in  Krakow came across the bones during excavations at the Cave Ciemna, located in the town of Ojcow. Previous research has shown the cave was occupied by Paleolithic people. It includes passages reaching about 200 meters and a vast chamber where over 1,000 stone artifacts have previously been collected by archaeologists.

Banksy painting 'self-destructs' moments after being sold for $1.4 million at auction

For an artist who's known for his stunts, this could be Banksy's most perfect art world prank.

After the gavel fell Friday at Sotheby's auction house in London, Banksy's Girl with Balloon was reduced to shreds -- another apparent act in the disruptive career of the anonymous British graffiti artist.

The iconic image of a girl reaching out for a red, heart-shaped balloon, sold for $1.4 million.

Moments later, a shredder hidden inside the "artist's frame" started its work and the art "self-destructed," according to a news release from Sotheby's

Banksy summed up the stunt with this quote on his Instagram account -- "Going, going, gone ..."
along with a picture of stunned onlookers as the shredded art emerges from the bottom of the frame.

"It appears we just got Banksy-ed," Alex Branczik, Sotheby's senior director of contemporary art, said in the news release.

Michigan meteorite worth $100K used as doorstop for years

A meteorite worth about $100,000 has been used as a doorstop at a Grand Rapids farm for years.

Geology Professor Mona Sirbescu of Central Michigan University first identified the 22.5-pound chunk of iron as more than just a doorstop when the owner asked her to look at it earlier this year. Although many people had asked her to examine rocks in the past, this time was different.

"I was exhilarated," Sirbescu said.

Meteorites are broken-off pieces of asteroids that come from outer space and enter the earth's atmosphere.

To test her suspicions, Sirbescu immediately began examining the properties of the iron, such as its magnetism, weight and composition. She sent two small slices to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to validate her findings. A colleague there further analyzed the sample, including with an acid test to reveal the Widmanstätten pattern, a property of most iron-nickel meteorites that cannot be faked.

Donna Strickland's Wikipedia Page and Women Nobel Winners

It was about five in the morning in Ontario, Canada, when Donna Strickland’s phone rang. The Nobel Prize committee was on the line in Stockholm, calling to tell her she had won the prize in physics.

“We wondered if it was a prank,” Strickland said Tuesday, in an interview with a Nobel official after the call. She had been asleep when the call arrived. “But then I knew it was the right day, and it would have been a cruel prank.”

Strickland, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, shares the honor with two other scientists for their work in the 1980s in transforming lasers into tiny tools that today have countless applications. Half of the prize went to Strickland and her collaborator Gérard Mourou, a professor at the École Polytechnique in France. The other half was awarded to Arthur Ashkin, a retired physicist who worked at the renowned Bell Labs in the United States.

. . .

Strickland’s win is historic in more than one way. It’s been 55 years since the last time a woman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. And Strickland is only the third woman to receive the prize in the Nobel’s 117-year existence.

Stanford is stripping the name of a Catholic saint over his treatment of Native Americans

A Spanish priest who initiated the building of the missions that line California and remain a top tourist attraction. An evangelist deemed so great that Pope Francis officially declared him a saint.

But as much as he's revered in some quarters, Junipero Serra is reviled in others.

Because when the Spanish armies and Catholic missionaries came to take the West, they imposed their religion upon an indigenous people.

They decimated the native population several times over.

And to his critics, the Franciscan friar represents Europe's imperial conquest of native peoples.

It's this contentious legacy that's prompting Stanford University to strip Serra's name from two campus buildings and a pedestrian mall.

"Revisiting how we think about historical figures is a challenging undertaking that requires care and humility," Jeff Raikes, chair of the Stanford Board of Trustees, said in a statement.

Court-ordered religious classes raise concerns

"I walked into the session and the very first thing she said to me was, 'I start my sessions by praying,'" Salzman said. "When I expressed my concerns that I didn't pray she said, 'well this is what I do' and she proceeded to say a prayer out loud."

Salzman wondered how this did not cross the line between church and state. After that first meeting with Pepper, she says she left a message with Family Court staff, complaining about the religion. Salzman says she never heard back. She says the second session with Pepper opened with a prayer again.

"We went back to court. I expressed concerns again about the religious overtones and they stated they hadn't heard any problems concerning Mary Pepper with religion," Salzman said.

The single mother of two said she felt so "offended and disgusted" that she stopped going to the court-ordered sessions. The result was that the court took her kids away.

The Sex-Abuse Scandal Is Growing Faster Than the Church Can Contain It

This has been a dramatic week for Catholics around the world. As Pope Francis faces mounting pressure to address the spiraling clergy sex-abuse crisis, almost every day has brought some new revelation or declaration.

Since Tuesday alone, a group of American Catholic leaders went to Rome to ask Francis some tough questions, while a women’s open letter demanding answers from him crossed the 45,000-signature mark. The pontiff summoned bishops from around the world to a future meeting, while making one bishop the subject of a new investigation. One cardinal who had come under fire for allegedly enabling accused priests to keep working for the Church announced his plans to resign, while another, who has been pressing for meaningful action against abusers, came under scrutiny himself. Amidst all this, a bombshell report about sex abuse in Germany was leaked to the press.

“Many strands are coming together,” said Kathleen Sprows Cummings, a historian of Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. “It does seem like we are reaching a watershed moment.” By Thursday, there had been so many new developments that she said she was having a hard time keeping up—and that the leaders at the Vatican probably were, too.  “I think they’re scrambling. The news is coming on so many fronts. I think they don’t know quite what to do.” Here is some of what they nevertheless did this week.

We Finally Know Why That Solar Observatory Was Closed By The FBI - And It's Pretty Disturbing

Last week an observatory in New Mexico was mysteriously shut down by the FBI, with the Internet going wild with speculation as to why. Yes, lots of people said aliens.

But now the actual reason has been revealed, and it’s… not funny at all. FBI records obtained by Reuters said that the Sunspot Solar Observatory, part of the National Solar Observatory on Sacramento Peak, was shut down due to criminal activity, specifically a child porn investigation.

The report said that the FBI was “investigating the activities of an individual who was utilizing the wireless internet service of the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, to download and distribute child pornography.”

This person was identified as a janitor contracted to clean the facility whose laptop had been connected to the observatory’s Wi-Fi. Fearing the person might pose a danger, the decision was made to shut the observatory. It re-opened on Monday, September 17.

Horrifying finger attachment lets your phone touch you back

Have you ever wished your phone could tap you when you had a notification, drag itself over to you on its own or touch you back? No? Too bad. Researchers in France have developed a finger-like phone and tablet attachment that can do all of those things and more. Called MobiLimb, it's made up of five servo motors, an Arduino microcontroller and a sensor, and it can do a number of unsettling things that are straight out of nightmares.

"In the spirit of human augmentation, which aims at overcoming human body limitations by using robotic devices, our approach aims at overcoming mobile device limitations (static, passive, motionless) by using a robotic limb," Marc Teyssier, one of the researchers behind MobiLimb, writes on his website. And to be fair, MobiLimb actually has some rather useful capabilities.

On the less creepy side, MobiLimb can be used to prop up a phone when you're watching a video, control phone settings and provide an additional way to grip your device. But on the extra creepy side, it can caress your arm as you hold your phone or be dressed to look like a human finger.

Elon Musk: I'm about to announce a 'Neuralink' product that connects your brain to computers

Elon Musk smoked pot and drank whiskey on the Joe Rogan podcast and said he's going to soon announce a new "Neuralink" product that can make anyone superhuman.

"I think we'll have something interesting to announce in a few months ... that's better than anyone thinks is possible," the Tesla CEO said on "Joe Rogan Experience." "Best case scenario, we effectively merge with AI."

Musk, whose enterprises include a company called Neuralink, says his new technology will be able to seamlessly combine humans with computers, giving us a shot at becoming "symbiotic" with artificial intelligence.

Musk argued that since we're already practically attached to our phones, we're already cyborgs. We're just not as smart as we could be because the data link between the information we can get from our phones to our brains isn't as fast as it could be.

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