Tag: empire (page 1 of 3)

Jurassic World of Genetically Modified Simulacra

Jay Dyer, GuestJurassic World is the sometime sequel to whatever the last Jurassic film was. InJurassic Park, a ill-conceived theme park based on genetic resurrecting of the dinosaur all-star team. Now, Hollywood shows it’s gone fully green in recycling the same plot for a new audience of zombieswith Frankensaurus Rex. While the JurassicPlot (that’s a joke) is only a sliver different from the first, this time around genetic modifica [...]

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Super Alien Civilizations: What Do They Really Want?

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comHighly advanced aliens seem MIA, according to a recent study by astronomers at Penn State University. These researchers checked out a huge gob of cosmic real estate -- roughly 100,000 galaxies -- and failed to find cl...

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Secrets of The Ancient Kings – Review

Ancient Secrets of Kings derives valuable life lessons and success stories from ancient king’s lives and combines it in the form of a self-improvement video course that can transform your life. It helped me bring about a positive change in my life and showed me the way to success. Here are some of my experiences with this video course:The Three PillarsThe video transformation course is divided into three pillars, namely Egypt, China, and Israel.China The first pillar is China. [...]

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Hypatia, Ancient Alexandria’s Great Female Scholar

An avowed paganist in a time of religious strife, Hypatia was also one of the first women to study math, astronomy and philosophy On the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, a mob led by Peter the Lector brutally murdered Hypatia, one of the last great thinkers of ancient Alexandria. (Mary Evans Picture Library / Alamy) By Sarah Zielinskismithsonian.com One day on the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, in the year 415 or 416, a mob of Christian zealots led by Peter the Lector accosted a wom [...]

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Did drought doom the Mayan Empire? New evidence from Belize’s ‘Blue Hole’

Minerals taken from lagoons reveal a century-long drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, right when the Mayan civilization disintegrated.

Excerpt from Livescience.com

By Tia Ghose  

Drought may have driven the ancient Mayan Empire to collapse, new research suggests.

Minerals taken from Belize's famous underwater cave, known as the Blue Hole, as well as lagoons nearby, show that an extreme, century-long drought occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 900, right when the Mayan civilization disintegrated. After the rains returned, the Mayans moved north — but they disappeared again a few centuries later, and that disappearance occurred at the same time as another dry spell, the sediments reveal. 

Rise and decline

From A.D. 300 to A.D. 700, the Mayan civilization flourished in the Yucatan peninsula. These ancient Mesoamericans built stunning pyramids, mastered astronomy, and developed both a hieroglyphic writing system and a calendar system, which is famous for allegedly predicting that the world would end in 2012.

But in the centuries after A.D. 700, the civilization's building activities slowed and the culture descended into warfare and anarchy. Historians have speculatively linked that decline with everything from the ancient society's fear of malevolent spirits to deforestation completed to make way for cropland to the loss of favored foods, such as the Tikal deer.

The evidence for a drought has been growing in recent years: Since at least 1995, scientists have been looking more closely at the effects of drought. A 2012 study in the journal Science analyzed a 2,000-year-old stalagmite from a cave in southern Belize and found that sharp decreases in rainfall coincided with periods of decline in the culture. But that data came from just one cave, which meant it was difficult to make predictions for the area as a whole, Droxler said.

The main driver of this drought is thought to have been a shift in the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), a weather system that generally dumps water on tropical regions of the world while drying out the subtropics. During summers, the ITCZ pelts the Yucatan peninsula with rain, but the system travels farther south in the winter. Many scientists have suggested that during the Mayan decline, this monsoon system may have missed the Yucatan peninsula altogether.

Deep history

The team found that during the period between A.D. 800 and A.D. 1000, when the Mayan civilization collapsed, there were just one or two tropical cyclones every two decades, as opposed to the usual five or six. After that, the Maya moved north, building at sites such as Chichen Itza, in what is now Mexico.

But the new results also found that between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1100, during the height of the Little Ice Age, another major drought struck. This period coincides with the fall of Chichen Itza.

The findings strengthen the case that drought helped usher in the long decline of the Mayan culture.

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Top 10 Ridiculously Common Science Myths

There is nothing better than a bit of mythbusting (which accounts for the popularity of the television program of the same name), so here we are again, presenting you with a new list of terribly common misconceptions and myths – this time about science.

Evolutionary Improvements
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The Myth: Evolution causes something to go from “lower” to “higher”
While it is a fact that natural selection weeds out unhealthy genes from the gene pool, there are many cases where an imperfect organism has survived. Some examples of this are fungi, sharks, crayfish, and mosses – these have all remained essentially the same over a great period of time. These organisms are all sufficiently adapted to their environment to survive without improvement.
Other taxa have changed a lot, but not necessarily for the better. Some creatures have had their environments changed and their adaptations may not be as well suited to their new situation. Fitness is linked to their environment, not to progress.

Humans Pop In Space
The Myth: When exposed to the vacuum of space, the human body pops
This myth is the result of science fiction movies which use it to add excitement or drama to the plot. In fact, a human can survive for 15 – 30 seconds in outer space as long as they breathe out before the exposure (this prevents the lungs from bursting and sending air into the bloodstream). After 15 or so seconds, the lack of oxygen causes unconsciousness which eventually leads to death by asphyxiation.
Brightest Star
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The Myth: Polaris is the brightest star in the northern hemisphere night sky
Sirius is actually brighter with a magnitude of ?1.47 compared to Polaris’ 1.97 (the lower the number the brighter the star). The importance of Polaris is that its position in the sky marks North – and for that reason it is also called the “North Star”. Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor and, interestingly, is only the current North Star as pole stars change over time because stars exhibit a slow continuous drift with respect to the Earth’s axis.
Five Second Rule
The Myth: Food that drops on the floor is safe to eat if you pick it up within five seconds
This is utter bunkum which should be obvious to most readers. If there are germs on the floor and the food lands on them, they will immediately stick to the food. Having said that, eating germs and dirt is not always a bad thing as it helps us to develop a robust immune system. I prefer to have a “how-tasty-is-it” rule: if it is something really tasty, it can sit there for ten minutes for all I care – I will still eat it.
Dark side of the Moon
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The Myth: There is a dark side of the moon
Actually – every part of the moon is illuminated at sometime by the sun. This misconception has come about because there is a side of the moon which is never visible to the earth. This is due to tidal locking; this is due to the fact that Earth’s gravitational pull on the moon is so immense that it can only show one face to us. Wikipedia puts it rather smartly thus: “Tidal locking occurs when the gravitational gradient makes one side of an astronomical body always face another; for example, one side of the Earth’s Moon always faces the Earth. A tidally locked body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner. This synchronous rotation causes one hemisphere constantly to face the partner body.”

Brain Cells
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The Myth: Brain cells can’t regenerate – if you kill a brain cell, it is never replaced
The reason for this myth being so common is that it was believed and taught by the science community for a very long time. But in 1998, scientists at the Sweden and the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California discovered that brain cells in mature humans can regenerate. It had previously been long believed that complex brains would be severely disrupted by new cell growth, but the study found that the memory and learning center of the brain can create new cells – giving hope for an eventual cure for illnesses like Alzheimer’s.
Pennies from Heaven
The Myth: A penny dropped from a very high building can kill a pedestrian below
This myth is so common it has even become a bit of a cliche in movies. The idea is that if you drop a penny from the top of a tall building (such as the Empire State Building) – it will pick up enough speed to kill a person if it lands on them on the ground. But the fact is, the aerodynamics of a penny are not sufficient to make it dangerous. What would happen in reality is that the person who gets hit would feel a sting – but they would certainly survive the impact.
Friction Heat
The Myth: Meteors are heated by friction when entering the atmosphere
When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere of the earth (becoming a meteor), it is actually the speed compressing the air in front of the object that causes it to heat up. It is the pressure on the air that generates a heat intense enough to make the rock so hot that is glows brilliantly for our viewing pleasure (if we are lucky enough to be looking in the sky at the right time). We should also dispel the myth about meteors being hot when they hit the earth – becoming meteorites. Meteorites are almost always cold when they hit – and in fact they are often found covered in frost. This is because they are so cold from their journey through space that the entry heat is not sufficient to do more than burn off the outer layers.
The Myth: Lightning never strikes the same place twice
Next time you see lightning strike and you consider running to the spot to protect yourself from the next bolt, remember this item! Lightning does strike the same place twice – in fact it is very common. Lightning obviously favors certain areas such as high trees or buildings. In a large field, the tallest object is likely to be struck multiple times until the lightning moves sufficiently far away to find a new target. The Empire State Building gets struck around 25 times a year.
Gravity in Space
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The Myth: There is no gravity in space
In fact, there is gravity in space – a lot of it. The reason that astronauts appear to be weightless because they are orbiting the earth. They are falling towards the earth but moving sufficiently sideways to miss it. So they are basically always falling but never landing. Gravity exists in virtually all areas of space. When a shuttle reaches orbit height (around 250 miles above the earth), gravity is reduced by only 10%.
Inspired by an excellent LiveScience Article. This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from Wikipedia.

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Erie Paris Catacombs Open at Night Ahead of Halloween

Skulls and bones are stacked at the Catacombs in Paris, France. The subterranean tunnels, stretching over a mile, cradle the bones of some 6 million Parisians from centuries past and once gave refuge to smugglers. (AP Photo)


As if visiting the Paris Catacombs in the daytime wasn't creepy enough — you can now visit the underground maze of skeletons after nightfall, too. That is if you dare defy the warning at the entrance: "Stop, this is the empire of Death."
The subterranean tunnels, stretching 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), cradle the bones of some 6 million Parisians from centuries past and once gave refuge to smugglers.
Twenty meters (66 feet) beneath the French capital's medieval streets, labyrinthine walls of bones and skulls bring visitors into the city of the dead, in a spooky atmosphere that attracts history enthusiasts as well as visitors looking for a chilling place to celebrate Halloween.
The site used to close at 5 p.m., but is now staying open until 8 p.m. The change is mainly aimed at allowing more people to visit and reducing long lines, but it also adds to the thrill: entering and leaving the catacombs after dark feels different from doing it in daylight.
Human remains started to be transferred to the former underground quarries of Paris in 1786, when the main cemetery of Paris —the Cemetery of Innocents — was closed for public health reasons. From 1809 on, the catacombs were rearranged into organized galleries, with piled bones forming walls and pillars, and even some artistic shapes made of femurs and skulls.
Sacred and profane maxims and poems are posted around the galleries, such as: "Think in the morning that perhaps you won't survive until evening, and in the evening that perhaps you won't survive until morning."
Valerie Guillaume, director of the Catacombs, stressed the philosophical nature of the unusual tourist site.
"The place was not conceived to be a horror place, but as a reflection on the meaning of life and death," she said.
Sylvie Robin, the Catacombs' curator, described the extensive smuggling that went on in the tunnels in the past and contributed to its scary reputation.
"That's the origin of all the legends," she said, because the smugglers used to scare the Parisians with lights and noises, so that no one would come and see what they were doing.
Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last admission at 7 p.m.), closed on Mondays and public holidays. General admission: 10 euros (about $12.70). Tour of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) takes around 45 minutes, with 130 steps to go down and 83 steps back up to street level. Not accessible to people with reduced mobility.

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