Dec 28, 2021


Humans just 'touched' the sun for the first time using a spacecraft

Many questions about our sun remain, like the nature of the energized wind that streams away from it across the solar system, or why the fiery orb's outer atmosphere is so much hotter than the surface.

It's why NASA sent the Parker Solar Probe on a seven-year mission to investigate in 2018. The spacecraft has already uncovered surprising things.

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The Parker Solar Probe successfully flew through the sun's corona, or upper atmosphere, to sample particles and our star's magnetic fields. This NASA goal was 60 years in the making.

Because the spacecraft will continue to draw closer to the sun, especially during an anticipated peak in solar activity, even more surprises are sure to be in store as the mission goes on.

Bison in Canada Discover Ancient Petroglyphs, Fulfilling an Indigenous Prophecy

The elders of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation had long prophesized that the return of the plains bison to their ancestral lands would portend a welcome turn of events for Canada’s First Nation peoples. They may not have known, however, that it would take just eight months for this prediction to come true.

In December 2019, officials at Wanuskewin Heritage Park in the province of Saskatchewan reintroduced bison to the region more than a century after the animals were hunted to near extinction. The following August, the herd’s hooves uncovered four petroglyphs, or rock carvings, and an accompanying tool used to create the ancient artworks.

“The elders used to tell us when the bison come back, that’s when there’ll be a good change in our history,” says Wahpeton Dakota Elder Cy Standing. “We’ve been down a long time. But it feels like we are starting the way up.”

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Indigenous peoples often have a fraught relationship with traditional archaeology. Excavations tend to be marked by strangers arriving, digging into important places without permission and stealing sacred objects. But after being offered a role in Wanuskewin’s development and management, the elders involved saw archaeology as a way to reclaim their history for their children—and share it with non-Indigenous people.

An extinct reptile with a massive wingspan leapt 8 feet in the air to take off

The bones of an extinct reptile tell a story of how this ancient creature took an 8-foot leap of faith in the air to take flight, new research has revealed.

The pterosaur Quetzalcoatlus, the largest known flying animal that ever lived, boasted a 40-foot (12-meter) wingspan that would allow it to soar through the sky, according to a research collection published Wednesday by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Scientists were puzzled for decades at how such a large creature could fly, said coauthor Matthew Brown, director of vertebrate paleontology collections at The University of Texas in Austin.

After years of research, Brown's team discovered Quetzalcoatlus likely flew by launching itself 8 feet (2.4 meters) in the air.

Perfectly preserved baby dinosaur discovered curled up inside its egg

An unprecedented fossil of a baby dinosaur curled up perfectly inside its egg is shedding more light on the links between dinosaurs and birds.

The 70-million-year-old fossil preserves the embryonic skeleton of an oviraptorid dinosaur, which has been nicknamed Baby Yingliang after the name of the Chinese museum which houses the fossil. Baby dinosaur bones are small and fragile and are only very rarely preserved as fossils, making this a very lucky find, said Darla Zelenitsky, an associate professor in the department of geoscience at the University of Calgary in Canada.

"It is an amazing specimen ... I have been working on dinosaur eggs for 25 years and have yet to see anything like it," said Zelenitsky, a coauthor of the research that published in the journal iScience on Tuesday.

"Up until now, little has been known of what was going on inside a dinosaur's egg prior to hatching, as there are so few embryonic skeletons, particularly those that are complete and preserved in a life pose," she said in an email.

Egypt reopens 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes in grand, glitzy Luxor ceremony

While Americans feasted their eyes on a full-blown Thanksgiving Day parade after a two-year Covid absence, nearly 6,000 miles away Egypt revived a very different cultural tradition that has not been seen for several thousand years.

The country opened the 3,000-year-old Avenue of Sphinxes to the public Thursday in an extravagant ceremony in the southern city of Luxor that follows decades of excavation efforts.

The ancient walkway, nearly two miles long and about 250 feet wide, was once named “The Path of God.” It connects the Temple of Luxor with the Temple of Karnak, just up the Nile river to the north.

A spectacular parade that began after nightfall in Egypt and around lunchtime ET proceeded along the length of the avenue, which is lined on either side by over 600 ram-headed statues and traditional sphinxes, statues with a lion’s body and a human’s head.

America's wealthiest pastor Kenneth Copeland - who is worth $770m - dodges $150K property tax on his $7m mansion home by claiming it's a 'clergy residence'

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, the richest pastor in America, avoids paying an annual property tax bill of $150,000 by claiming that his massive lakeside mansion is a clergy residence, which qualifies it for a complete tax break.

Copeland, 85, enjoys the spoils of his six-bed, six-bath house - with a sweeping spiral staircase, crystal chandeliers and a tennis court - without contributing a single dime to the area's schools and first responders.

The $7 million estate, located right outside of Forth Worth, Texas, is even driving distance from an airport bearing his name, from which he commands a fleet of private jets, including a Gulfstream V he bought from filmmaker Tyler Perry, according to an investigation by the Houston Chronicle.

Copeland has previously said that God told him to build the home for his wife Gloria.

'You may think that house is too big,' he said at the 2015 Southwest Believers' Convention in Fort Worth. 'You may think it's too grand. I don't care what you think. I heard from heaven. Glory to God, hallelujah!'

Orthodox priest shouts 'Pope, you are a heretic' at Francis in Athens

An elderly Greek Orthodox priest shouted "Pope, you are a heretic" as Pope Francis was entering the Orthodox Archbishopric in Athens on Saturday and was taken away by police, a reminder of the lingering distrust between the two divided churches.

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Christianity split into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in 1054 in what is referred to as the Great Schism, and for centuries relations were rocky.

In his address to the archbishop, Beatitude Ieronymos II, Francis asked forgiveness in the name of the Roman Catholic Church for its part in the historical wrongs that led to the breakup.

"Tragically, in later times we grew apart. Worldly concerns poisoned us, weeds of suspicion increased our distance and we ceased to nurture communion," Francis told Ieronymos, whom he met during his first trip to Greece in 2016.

Paris Archbishop allegedly involved in 'intimate relationship' with woman resigns

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Michel Aupetit from the position of Archbishop of Paris following reports that Aupetit had a consensual "intimate relationship" with a woman.

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Aupetit also released a statement after the Vatican announced its decision. "I was, of course, greatly disturbed by the attacks I was subjected to," reads the statement.

"I ask forgiveness of those whom I might have hurt and I assure you all of my deep friendship and my prayer, which will always be yours." The alleged relationship came to light due to a love email Aupetit sent to his secretary by mistake in 2012, when he was the Vicar-General of Paris, according to Le Point.

Despite admitting in the Le Point article that his behavior "towards her may have been ambiguous, implying the existence between us of an intimate relationship and sexual intercourse," Aupetit has firmly denied that anything actually happened between him and the woman in question.

Utah’s Richest Native Rips Mormon Church in Letter Announcing His Resignation as Member

Utah's wealthiest native son, who pledged last month to give away at least 90 percent of his wealth, has formally broken ties with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, excoriating the organization on its hoarded wealth and civil-rights record on his way out the door.

In an explosive 900-word letter sent Monday to LDS President Russell Nelson, Jeff T. Green lambasted the Mormon church, saying that while he believed most members were “good people trying to do right,” he also believed “the church is actively and currently doing harm in the world.”

“The church leadership is not honest about its history, its finances, and its advocacy,” Green, a former Mormon missionary and Brigham Young University graduate, added. “I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress in women’s rights, civil rights and racial equality, and LGBTQ+ rights.”

Cause of Death Revealed for Mummified Colorado ‘Cult’ Leader Found Without Eyes

Amy Carlson, the leader of a New Age sect known as Love Has Won, died due to a decline brought on by alcohol abuse, anorexia, and dosing colloidal silver, according to an autopsy report from the El Paso County Coroner’s Office in Colorado.

Mystery initially shrouded Carlson’s death after her mummified body was discovered in April in a green sleeping bag with its eyes missing in a home in Crestone, Colorado, arrest affidavits revealed at the time. Police had raided the home after being alerted by a member of the group who said Carlson’s body had been transported to a mobile home that served as the group’s headquarters from across the country.

Several members of Love Has Won, who referred to Carlson as “Mother God,” were taken into custody after her body, which had been decomposing for roughly one month, was found. In interviews with law enforcement, the group claimed Carlson was not dead but was simply “out of communication.”

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Corporal Steve Hanson of the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office previously said that investigators found human remains with “what appears to be glitter type makeup on around the eyes.”

World's first living robots can now reproduce, scientists say

The US scientists who created the first living robots say the life forms, known as xenobots, can now reproduce -- and in a way not seen in plants and animals.

Formed from the stem cells of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) from which it takes its name, xenobots are less than a millimeter (0.04 inches) wide. The tiny blobs were first unveiled in 2020 after experiments showed that they could move, work together in groups and self-heal.

Now the scientists that developed them at the University of Vermont, Tufts University and Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering said they have discovered an entirely new form of biological reproduction different from any animal or plant known to science.

"I was astounded by it," said Michael Levin, a professor of biology and director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University who was co-lead author of the new research.

This Robot’s Facial Expressions Will Freak You Out

A U.K. robotics firm called Engineered Arts just debuted the first videos of its new humanoid robot, which is able to make hyper-realistic facial expressions. It’s a pretty stunning achievement in the world of robotics; it just also happens to be absolutely terrifying.

Named Ameca, the robot’s face features eyes, cheeks, a mouth, and forehead that contort and change shape to show off emotions ranging from awe to surprise to happiness. One of the new videos of Ameca shows it waking up and seemingly coming to grips with its own existence for the first time ever.

Ameca, which its creators call “the world’s most advanced human shaped robot,” is designed to help scientists and engineers study and improve human-robot interactions. Reading facial cues is a critical part of how humans connect with each other, and it’s thought that humanoid robots tasked with working in settings like healthcare and hospitality would be more readily embraced if they could look and communicate like humans. The company plans to show off more of Ameca at CES 2022 in Las Vegas in January.

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