|Aurora Borealis! |
The Lost City of Naachtún,
Black Pharaohs, Flapping Dinos,
Chocolate Good! Meet The Aardvarks!
|Aurora Borealis Revealed!|
|UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA NEWS RELEASE |
January 20, 2003 - The spectacular aurora borealis displays that light up the northern nights could be powered by a gigantic "slinky" effect in Earth's magnetic field lines, according to research performed at the University of Minnesota.
Earth's magnetic field resemble a slinky in that when "wiggled," it undulates in waves that travel down the field lines at speeds up to 25 million miles per hour. These waves can pass energy to electrons, accelerating them along the magnetic field lines toward Earth.
When the electrons hit atoms in the atmosphere, the atoms become excited and produce the colors of the aurora.
Using electric and magnetic field data and images from NASA's POLAR satellite, the researchers showed that energy from such waves is sufficient to power auroras and that statistically, the waves occur in the same locations as auroras -- in a ring around the poles. The work will be published in the Jan. 17 issue of Science.
"At the edges of sunspots, other researchers have actually seen magnetic field lines waving. Understanding how such waves are caused and how they transmit energy is important to unraveling the complex processes behind larger-scale particle accelerations that occur, for example, in jets of material being ejected from black holes at the centers of galaxies."
The paper's first author is Andreas Keiling, who headed the study while a doctoral student and, later, a research scientist at the University of Minnesota. He is now at the Center for Space Research on Radiation in Toulouse, France.
Earth is like a huge bar magnet, with magnetic field lines coming out near the poles, curving through space, and re-entering near the opposite pole.
When the solar wind's magnetic field sweeps by, it joins with some of Earth's magnetic field lines and stretches them into space on the night side of Earth.
The stretching energizes this part of the magnetic field until it suddenly "snaps" away from the solar wind and reconnects with Earth. This process, called reconnection, may send waves rippling through the magnetic field, like wiggling a slinky, said Wygant.
Energy from the waves then passes to electrons, sending them in beams along the magnetic field lines into the atmosphere. The color of the aurora depends on how deeply the electrons penetrate the atmosphere and which atoms they excite.
Measurements of electrical energy at altitudes near 12,000 miles, where the electrons are accelerated, showed sufficient energy from the waves to power auroras, Wygant said.
|Jubilee Celebrates Black Culture|
|By CARL HARTMAN |
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON January 21, 2003 (AP) - Blacks have created their own forms of religion, music, art, language and literature appreciated or adopted by other Americans and are not just victims of slavery, declares an exhibit opened for the birthday of Martin Luther King.
"Unlike many previous accounts, it does not focus on blacks as victims," says director Howard Dodson of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture. "It is the story of the ways in which enslaved Africans became makers of history and culture."
The show is called "Jubilee," after the celebration described in the Old Testament, scheduled by the ancient Israelites every 50 years. It included the freeing of slaves.
Mounted by the National Geographic Society with Dodson's help, the exhibit highlights objects and photos that have emotional impact. One case houses the small leg-irons used on children brought from Africa in slave ships.
Another shows a small square of colorful needlepoint from just after the Civil War, with two awkwardly dancing black figures and the words: "We's free."
There's also a handsome blanket from South Carolina, with emblems special to an African god of thunder and lightning.
It recalls faiths of African origin still widely practiced in Florida and Latin America, like Santeria.
|Interior Department Gets Failing Grade on Indian Trust Reform|
|By David Melmer |
Indian Country Today
WASHINGTON January 20, 2003 (ICT) - The National Congress of American Indians is joining the Cobell v. Norton class action lawsuit with an amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief that will address the tribes’ side of the Trust fund issue.
The Cobell litigation deals primarily with the Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts held by approximately 300,000 descendants of tribal members whose land assets have been managed, or mismanaged, by the Interior Department since the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887.
NCAI attorney John Dossett said the tribes have been sitting on the sideline in the case and it was time to get more involved. According to tribal officials, Cobell v. Norton deals only with the IIM accounts while the tribal trust accounting system is also in disarray.
Some tribal leaders are also angry that the plan includes very little of their input.
According to Tex Hall, president of the NCAI, the plan submitted by Interior does not have the proper standards for trust fund management for which tribal leaders were asking. He denounced one provision of the plan that provided for a selected group of tribal leaders to work with Interior on trust reform.
"There is an indication she (Norton) doesn’t listen to the tribes," Hall said. "Like the task force, they walked away, which shows they don’t listen to the tribes. No way will any plan be successful without the tribes."
Said Keith Harper, attorney for the Native American Rights Fund and a lead attorney in Cobell v. Norton, "They keep saying the normal trust standards don’t apply, but what standards do apply? It can’t be standardless. With trust you have to have standards; they haven’t identified those. How can they come up with a plan with standards not articulated? It’s not surprising they have a plan that does nothing."
Harper said that Interior’s selection of an advisory committee resembled the days when treaties were drafted. He said the government selected a certain group of people, gave them medals and called them leaders.
"They are looking for individual tribal leaders to take interest in actions that are not in the best interest of Indian country. They are in a desperate place and are looking for salvation. They can make it look very attractive to individual tribal leaders. We have an obligation to the account holders who have been abused through the century not to undermine the justice they are seeking at the last minute by betrayal," Harper said. "We have to be aware of medal ‘chiefing’ by this administration. Interior wants to control the process with their handpicked men."
Harper accused Interior of organizing clandestine meetings with a group of handpicked leaders and excluding the National Congress of American Indians, one of the lead organizations in trust reform.
Interior holds more than 10 million acres in trust for individual Indians and manages the oil, mineral and agricultural leases on land that involves some 4 million interests. Some accounts, at least 20,000 in the IIM system, are only worth $1.
The tribal leaders behind the NCAI brief also dispute the management of the IIM funds and the tribal funds. The leaders said a year ago their basic premise was that standards provide adequate accountability, management and record keeping at the lower levels, nearer the land owners.
The new plan still maintains a central office with some lower level personnel at the tribal level. The tribal opposition also demands an independent oversight group. Interior continues to argue that an internal oversight office will be sufficient and resists outside control.
"We are where the rubber hits the road," Harper said. "All these things are fine, but I think the debate has to surround how we get a trust management system. When push comes to shove, how do we build one? Nothing the government says furthers the debate. They once again submitted a plan to make a plan, contrary to what the court asked for."
Hall said the chance of getting a good plan that Indian country could live with still lies in Congress. Tribal leaders from the Task Force will submit legislation, he said.
"The main issue for us is that we are getting to a resolution in this case, with or without the government with us. This court wisely set the foundation for a structural injunction with how courts go about resolving things like this, and the next step may be receivership," Harper said.
"The court increasingly mandates the government take action and the government responds with defiance. We will get to a place where they will have justified in everyone’s minds to have a receivership," he added.
|The Lost City of Naachtún|
|By Mario Toneguzzi |
Calgary January 18, 2003 (Calgary Herald) - Calgary archeologist Kathryn Reese-Taylor walked two days behind a mule in the Guatemalan jungle last summer to reach the tantalizing remains of a Mayan city.
The lost city of Naachtún -- mysteriously abandoned at the height of its powers -- beckoned Reese-Taylor, one of only a handful of archeologists in the past 80 years to visit the site.
"It was a huge building -- standing masonry architecture, half-shrouded in jungle vegetation," said Reese-Taylor, associate professor with the University of Calgary's archeology department. "It was one of the most impressive sites I've ever seen. It was incredible to see. I'd hardly ever seen anything like this. It was awe-inspiring."
Searching for more inspiration like the kind she found last July, Reese-Taylor will head back next month to seek approval from the Guatemalan government for a 10-year project that could start in February 2004.
If approved, it will be the first time the Mayan city has ever been the focus of a scholarly inquiry.
Naachtún is situated in the heart of the Maya region, just one kilometer south of the Mexican border in northern Guatemala, or about 60 kilometers north of the historic Mayan city of Tikal. It was rediscovered by western archeologists in 1922 and remains one of the most remote sites in the Maya area.
Archeologists know little about the site because of its remoteness. A survey team took pictures and mapped the area in the 1930s, but there have been few expeditions to the area since then.
Reese-Taylor will be joined in the jungle by Peter Mathews, a former U of C archeology professor who is now at La Trobe University in Australia; Ernesto Arredondo Leiva, a Guatemalan archeologist; and Marc Zender, a U of C grad student who reads ancient Mayan writings.
Researchers want to know why and how this city survived for so long under those circumstances.
|How Old is Calcutta?|
|By Krittivas Mukherjee |
Kolkata January 16, 2003 (Indo-Asian News Service) - The eastern metropolis of Kolkata, believed to have been founded over three centuries ago by the British, may actually owe its origin to an urban settlement over two millennia previously.
Archaeologists excavating on the city's northern outskirts have stumbled upon artifacts and "habitational deposits" that are believed to be the remains of an urban settlement dating back to the 2nd century BC.
Scientists of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), carrying out an excavation near the Dum Dum neighborhood, say the artifacts and potsherds seem to be from the Sunga Kusana period.
ASI superintendent archaeologist Bimal Bandopadhyay says indications are that an urban population lived in the area continuously for centuries without a break.
It is yet to be known how the settlement died out.
The ASI has not only found artifacts, potsherds and seals from the Dum Dum site, but also human skeletons that have been sent for laboratory tests. Although the test results are awaited, scientists are confident that the human remains are at least two millennia old.
|How Flapping Dinos Learned To Fly|
|By Maggie Fox |
WASHINGTON January 21, 2003 (Reuters) — A small dinosaur desperately flapping its arms as it fled a predator may have been making key steps in the evolution of wings, a U.S. researcher says.
Flapping their wings can help birds scoot up steep hills and even defy gravity without taking to the air, an expert in bird flight reports in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Dinosaurs with feathered forelimbs that had not yet evolved into wings probably used similar mechanisms, said Kenneth Dial of the avian flight laboratory at the University of Minnesota. He proposes that such creatures eventually evolved into birds.
"It turns out the proto-wings — precursors to wings birds have today — actually acted more like a spoiler on the back of a race car to keep the animal sure-footed even while climbing up nearly vertical surfaces," Dial said in a statement.
"In the proto-bird, this behavior would have represented the intermediate stage in the development of flight-capable, aerodynamic wings."
It is easy to test partial, or proto-wings — baby birds use them all the time. Dial noted that baby partridges can scurry up a 45 degree incline using just their strong legs.
But when they flap their developing wings, they can go straight up a 90 degree slope. Mature partridges can actually run up and over an overhang of 105 degrees when flapping their wings, Dial found.
Feathers could have first evolved to protect from cold and wet weather, and later acted to aid in running.
Several fossils have been found that show structures common to both birds and dinosaurs, and some fossils of dinosaurs that clearly never flew carry what look very much like feathers.
|By PATRICIA SMITH HEUPEL |
JACKSONVILLE DAILY NEWS
BEAUFORT NC January 19, 2003 (JD News) - The inscription on a bell in the Blackbeard display at the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort clearly reads "IH S Maria" and "ANO DE 1709."
And museum signs accompanying the display date the bell at 1709.
But looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to 18th century artifacts, state archaeologists and historians found out when experts in Spain deciphered the date on the bell at 1705.
"That's for some strange reason the way the Spanish - nobody else - but the way the Spanish were doing the number five," said David Moore, nautical archaeologist and Blackbeard expert with the Maritime Museum.
That the bell was cast four years earlier than was previously believed makes little difference to those trying to link it to Blackbeard's flagship, Queen Anne's Revenge, which ran aground in Beaufort Inlet in 1718, Moore said. State archaeologists have been mounting evidence to prove the shipwreck found in 1996 is Queen Anne's Revenge.
State archaeologists had hoped the bell, one of the first artifacts to be retrieved from the shipwreck site, might hold some secret link to North Carolina's most famous pirate. As it turns out, the bell simply helps date the shipwreck site to the appropriate period during which Blackbeard was an active pirate.
Wilde-Ramsing believes the bell was more likely made for a mission than a ship.
Some historians think - and the bell gives some credence to this theory - that a privateer in Queen Anne's War may have previously used the Concorde, Moore said. In that war, which lasted from 1702 to 1713, England fought both Spain and France.
|Genre News: Monte Walsh, Beatles, Faith on Angel, Witchblade, Firefly, Richard Crenna & The eXoGlobes!|
|Monte Walsh: Don't Fence Me In |
Hollywood January 21, 2003 (eXoNews) - Tom Selleck rode back into town last week and proved once again that the Western genre is far from dead. If you didn't see it the first time around, watch for a rebroadcast. You can thank me later, pardner.
Based on a novel by Jack Schaefer (Shane), TNT's Western drama Monte Walsh takes us to the turn of the 19th century and the end of the Old West. Monte (Tom Selleck) and his sidekick Chet (Keith Carradine) are the last of a breed of men who have no homes except the bunkhouse and would rather die than trade their lives on horseback for putting up fences.
The film was directed by Simon Wincer, who won an Emmy for directing Lonesome Dove and also directed Selleck in his highly underrated western feature Quigley Down Under.
When they're not out on the range rounding up strays in the dead of winter, Monte and Chet are boozing and boasting and roughhousing and nailing local women. Chet romances a local widow with flowers and Monte's main squeeze is the town prostitute Martine (Isabella Rossellini).
It's all part of the cowboy life and they operate strictly within the unwritten code of the West.
Monte Walsh mixes the stoic fatalism of a dying age with just the right measure of humor and romantic idealism. We feel Monte's despair at losing his world, his profession, and his gal. We share his anger at the changes, but we know that nobody sits in the saddle quite like Monte Walsh. He is unique and he will somehow prevail.
Monte Walsh TNT web site - http://www.tnt.tv/Title/Display/0,5918,437110,00.html
London January 21, 2003 (BBC) - United States poster companies have airbrushed the classic Beatles Abbey Road album cover to remove a cigarette from Paul McCartney's hand. The move was made without the permission of either McCartney or Apple Records, which owns the rights to the image.
But politically correct US poster companies have airbrushed out the offending cigarette, to the delight of anti-smoking campaigners.
A myth suggesting that Paul McCartney had died in a car crash and been replaced by a look-a-like grew up around the picture soon after it was released. Clues could supposedly be found in the image. The white-suited John Lennon symbolized the preacher heading the funeral procession, while the bare-footed McCartney was the corpse.
Discovery Channel to Shoot Dinosaur Film
Discovery Channel - http://www.discovery.com
Faith Returns to Angel
Hollywood January 14, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Amy Acker, who plays Fred in The WB's Angel, told SCI FI Wire that the cast is currently shooting the first of three episodes that will feature the return of the errant Slayer Faith, played once more by Eliza Dushku.
When plans go awry, the gang summons Faith to deal with Angelus.
Angel's Official Site - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||139,00.html
Rose Red Is Back With Prequel
Witchblade's Yancy Butler Faces Charges
LOS ANGELES January 21, 2003 (Zap2it.com) - Yancy Butler, who starred in the TNT series "Witchblade," is facing several criminal charges stemming from three separate incidents earlier this month.
Firefly's Last Gasp: Syndication?
Hollywood January 19, 2003 (eXoNews) - Joss Whedon's space western Firefly may still have one last chance if Whedon can convince someone to pick the show up for syndication, but Sci Fi Wire reports that Christopher Buchanan, president of Whedon's Mutant Enemy production unit, says syndication seems unlikely.
As of last week, Firefly's sets are still up and ready to resume production. Whedon has indicated that he will make every effort possible to bring Firefly back.
There are three unaired Firefly episodes in addition to the two-hour pilot and ten episodes that were shown on Fox.
"In this spirit, the Brown Coat Drive has been created to bring important resources to needy members of local communities, while at the same time drawing attention to the unswerving focus of the Firefly fans on finding a new home for this innovative television series.
The coats will be delivered to the Salvation Army through regional coordinators (see the Firefly S.O.S. site for one near you) or you can just do it yourself.
Firefly: Immediate Assistance - http://www.fireflysupport.com
Richard Crenna Dies at 76
Born in Los Angeles, Crenna's career began at the age of 10 when he broke into radio. The squeaky-voiced youngster appeared on "Burns and Allen"; later, he played love-sick teen Walter Denton on "Our Miss Brooks," moving with the show when it switched to television.
The latter role earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor.
Crenna later spoofed that role in the 1993 comedy "Hot Shots! Part Deux," a parody of such high-testosterone films.
His character's name: Col. Denton Walters, a nod to his old radio persona.
Mad As Hell!
Hollywood January 20, 2003 (eXoNews) - For the last few years I have suffered the Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmys and multitudes of other award shows handing out their little statues to the biggest earners or most hyped and ignoring the shows I actually watch.
I was sitting through part of the Golden Globes last night, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (picture a bunch of people drinking martinis on overstuffed sofas in dashikis, monocles, berets and turbans), and it occurred to me that I live in Hollywood and I write a lot about TV and nobody ever asks me to vote awards to anyone!
|The Black Pharaohs|
|Pharaonic Statues Found in Northern Sudan |
KHARTOUM January 21, 2003 (MEO) - Granite statues and stelas of pharaohs who ruled from northern Sudan some 2,600 years ago, including the last "black pharaohs," have been found by a team of French and Swiss archeologists, a statement said Sunday.
The artifacts represented kings Taharqa and Tanutamon, the last of the "black pharaohs," as well as monarchs Senkamanisken and Aspelta, who all lived about 600 years BC, the French embassy here said in the statement.
These discoveries "represent a significant contribution to the history of ancient Sudan and without a doubt count among the masterpieces of sculpture worldwide," the team said in the statement.
The artifacts were found in a grave in Kerma, south of the Third Cataract of the Nile, by a team from the University of Geneva headed by Charles Bonnet, and including French archeologist Dominique Valbelle.
Like the Egyptian kings, the kings of Kush were also buried in pyramids.
Taharqa (690-664 BC) inherited a dynasty that ruled Egypt until the Assyrian conquest began and his reign was pushed back to between the third and fourth cataracts.
[Further info on this find appeared in the BBC story below. Ed.]
Egypt January 20, 2003 (BBC) - A team of French and Swiss archaeologists working in the Nile Valley have uncovered ancient statues described as sculptural masterpieces in northern Sudan.
It had not been opened for over 2,000 years.
They were important not just for the history of Sudan but also for world art.
The Nubians were powerful and wealthy kings who controlled large territories along the Nile. Their land was known as the Kingdom of Kush.
They controlled the valuable trade routes along the river but were eventually conquered by their neighbors from the north.
The ancient Egyptians made the pit into which the monuments and statues were piled.
Many of the sculptures were savagely destroyed, with smashed heads and broken feet.
Professor Bonnet says that this shows that the Egyptians were not content with simply conquering Kush.
|Woman Lives with Dead Aunt for 18 Months!|
|BERLIN January 21, 2003 (Reuters) - A German woman from southwestern Germany lived with her dead aunt tucked up in bed for 18 months, police said. Police entered the house in a suburb of the city of Stuttgart Wednesday to discover a skeleton in the bed of the house occupied by a 54-year-old woman, officials said Friday. |
The woman told police her aunt had died, aged 89, in June 2001. An autopsy revealed the aunt had died of natural causes. The niece has since been admitted to a psychiatric clinic.
"Neighbors described both women as rather peculiar," a police spokesman said.
The two women had run a corner shop, but the store had only opened on odd occasions recently, leading neighbors to become curious.
Last July, police discovered a German man had lived with his dead father in an apartment in the western city of Wiesbaden for at least a year to avoid eviction. Firemen found the decomposed body of the father sitting on the couch after neighbors reported an unusual smell.
|Chocolate Is Good For You!|
|American Chemical Society Press Release |
January 17, 2003 - Who knew that chocolate - the traditional Valentine's Day gift - had so much more to offer the recipient than simply a token of someone's affection? Of course, like most enjoyable treats, the "food of the gods" should be embraced in moderation, but research suggests that chocolate may have some redeeming health features.
The good news was presented at a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
And this doesn't just mean reveling in a box á la Bridget Jones when lonely. According to several scientists, chocolate contains polyphenols - chemical compounds renowned for their heart-helping properties.
Polyphenols, which are present in a chocolate bar in about the same quantities as in a glass of red wine, have been shown to prevent LDL cholesterol (the 'bad' cholesterol) from oxidizing into a form that damages arteries. In addition, Joe A. Vinson, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, in Scranton, Pa., says that chocolate has been shown to "raise good cholesterol 10 percent, therefore lowering the risk of heart complications by 20 percent." That should make your heart swell with love!
Antioxidants, found in everything from green tea to bread crust, are commonly believed to fight cancer. Cocoa's antioxidant capacity tops that of long-trusted sources like strawberries and garlic. Vinson has determined that cocoa liquor, the derivative of the cocoa bean used in milk and dark chocolates that is absent from white chocolate, contains most of the antioxidants.
Rich, dark chocolate lovers should celebrate: the darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants. Not only does chocolate contain a large quantity of antioxidants, Vinson discovered that chocolate contains high quality antioxidants.
"The higher quality the antioxidants, the more work they can do," Vinson explained. "We've found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate are higher quality than even vitamins C and E."
Here are two chocolate recipes courtesy of the American Chemical Society's historic Belmont Conference Center in Elkridge, Md.
6-½ oz bittersweet chocolate chopped in small pieces
Bring cream to a boil. Pour onto chocolate pieces and stir until melted and smooth. Refrigerate overnight.
Scoop with size 100-portion control scoop (small sorbet scoop) and place on parchment lined sheet.
Freeze for 2 hours.
Dip in melted chocolate and chill until set.
Serve at room temperature for best flavor and texture.
Molten Chocolate Cake
7 oz bittersweet chocolate
In double boiler, melt chocolate, butter and confectioner's sugar. Whip salt, eggs and yolks in mixer until lemon yellow.
Pour in melted chocolate and whip. Stir in sifted cake flour.
Pour into greased 4 oz. ramekins and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes.
Turn out onto dessert plates and serve warm.
[eXoNews takes no responsibility for weight gain or bad teeth as a result of reading this article :o)> Ed.]
|Meet the Aardvarks!|
|Matieland SA January 20, 2003 (BBC) - The ancient ancestor of all mammals that give birth to live young - including humans - probably had genetic similarities with the aardvark. The elusive African mammal is a close match to our early cousin in the way its DNA is packaged into distinct bundles, or chromosomes, say scientists. |
The last common ancestor of all placental mammals - possibly a shrew-like creature - scurried over the planet hundreds of millions of years ago. It was probably nothing like the modern-day aardvark but could have had a similar set of chromosomes.
The aardvark, which feeds on ants and termites, is something of a genetic oddity. It looks nothing like an elephant but has been lumped in with jumbo and co when it comes to its genetic make-up.
Many scientists think both are members of the group from which all placental mammals evolved.
Six animals - the aardvark, elephant, hyrax, manatee, elephant shrew and golden mole - belong to the group, on the basis of their genetic sequences.
However, like all mammals that bear live young, we once shared a common bond.