Cave Carving May Be 1st Known Example of Neanderthal Rock Art
Around 39,000 years ago, a Neanderthal huddled in the back of a seaside cave at Gibraltar, safe from the hyenas, lions and leopards that might have prowled outside. Archaeologists discovered this enigmatic carving during an excavation of Gorham's Cave two years ago. "This was intentional — this was not somebody doodling or scratching on the surface," said study researcher Clive Finlayson, director of the Gibraltar Museum. They were the closest known relatives of modern humans, and recent research has suggested that Neanderthals might have behaved more like Homo sapiens than previously thought: They buried their dead, they used pigments and feathers to decorate their bodies, and they may have even organized their caves.
'Project Wing': Google Unveils New Drone-Delivery System
Move aside, Amazon: Google has revealed its own top-secret drone project. "Project Wing," as the drone program is called, is a product of the company's secretive moonshot lab, Google X. More than two years in the making, the technology — which is still in the early phase of its development — was first demonstrated in mid-August in Queensland, Australia, The Atlantic reported. Just as the Postal Service and FedEx revolutionized mail delivery, systems like Project Wing could be the next frontier, its makers say. "Throughout history there have been a series of innovations that have each taken a huge chunk out of the friction of moving things around," Astro Teller, the leader and so-called "Captain of Moonshots" at Google X, said in a YouTube video.
Scientists use E.coli bacteria to create fossil fuel alternative
British and Finnish scientists have found a way of generating renewable propane using a bacterium widely found in the human intestine and say the finding is a step to commercial production of a fuel that could one day be an alternative to fossil fuel reserves. "Although we have only produced tiny amounts so far, the fuel we have produced is ready to be used in an engine straight away," said Patrik Jones of the department of life sciences at Imperial College London, who worked on the research. He said while work is at a very early stage, possibly 5-10 years from the point where commercial production would be possible, his team's findings were proof of concept for a way of producing renewable fuel now only accessible from fossil reserves. It is already produced as a by-product during natural gas processing and petrol refining, but both of these are fossil fuels that will one day run out.
Putin orders building hastened at new Russian spaceport
By Vladimir Soldatkin VOSTOCHNY Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered construction sped up on a multi-billion-dollar spaceport in Russia's Far East that he said would break reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and launch future missions to the Moon and Mars. Putin flew in a helicopter over the sprawling building site in Vostochny at a time when conflict with Ukraine, maker of Zenit and Dnepr rockets, is highlighting the fragility of Russia's dependence on former Soviet republics in defense and space. Building a new launchpad on its own soil is central to Putin's effort to reform a once-pioneering space industry hobbled by years of budget cuts and a brain drain in the 1990s. "Our own space infrastructure and modern network of cosmodromes ... will allow Russia to strengthen its standing as a leading space superpower and guarantee the independence of space activities," Putin said at Vostochny, near Russia's border with China.
'Human Safaris' May Be Exploiting Isolated Tribes, Advocates Warn
Advocates are particularly concerned about a spate of recent encounters with the Mashco-Piro people, a group that lives in voluntary isolation in Peru's densely forested Madre de Dios region, near the border with Brazil. Representatives with Peru's Native Federation of the Madre de Dios River and Tributaries, or FENAMAD, issued a statement this week voicing their alarm about reports of tourists filming and photographing Mashco-Piro people and leaving items like clothing on the riverbanks for the tribe. Every few months, campaigners at the advocacy group Survival International get emails from tourists who just got back from a trip to Peru and are eager to share photos they took of the Mashco-Piro. "It's been happening with more and more frequency," Rebecca Spooner, Survival International's Peru campaigner, told Live Science.
Suit Up! Final Frontier Design Launches Space Suit Experience in NYC
If you've ever wanted a taste of outer space living without ever leaving Earth, Final Frontier Design has a suit for you. The founders of Final Frontier Design — a spacesuit design company based here in Brooklyn — want space enthusiasts visiting the Big Apple to have the chance to bounce around in a pressurized spacesuit for the relatively reasonable price of $395.
US Air Force's Secretive X-37B Space Plane Passes 600 Days in Orbit
Air Force's mysterious unmanned space plane has winged beyond 600 days in orbit on a classified military mission that seems to have no end. The X-37B space plane is carrying out the Orbital Test Vehicle-3 (OTV-3) mission, a long-duration cruise that marks the third flight for the unpiloted Air Force spaceflight program. The Air Force launched the miniature space shuttle into orbit on Dec. 11, 2012 using an expendable Atlas 5 rocket. By the end of Friday (Aug. 29), the space plane had spent 627 days in orbit.
Can a Severed Snake Head Still Kill? It's Possible
"Snakes in general are well known for retaining reflexes after death," said Steven Beaupré, a biology professor at the University of Arkansas. The bite reflex is stronger in venomous snakes than it is in some other carnivores because these snakes use their bite differently than other meat-eaters, Beaupré said.
Nasty, brutish and artsy? Neanderthal hashtag engraving found
By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported on Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species. The discovery is "a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture," said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. In recent years researchers have discovered that Neanderthals buried their dead, adorned themselves with black and red pigments, wore shell and feather jewelry and cared for the elderly and infirm, all evidence of complex thought. The new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could change that.
Scientists solve mystery of moving Death Valley rocks
By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California's Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice. Trails from the movement of the rocks, which show them changing direction suddenly in their movement across the so-called Racetrack Playa, have long befuddled scientists and the general public. Paleobiologist Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who led the study, saw the rare phenomenon first-hand last December while standing with his cousin, engineer James Norris, at the spot.