A team of scientists working at Princess Elisabeth Antarctica has recently discovered a meteorite weighing 18kg embedded in the East Antarctic ice sheet, the largest such meteorite found in the region since 1988. The eight members of the SAMBA project, from Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) and Tokyo University were searching for meteorites scattered across the Nansen Ice Field on January 28, when they found the 18kg ordinary chondrite. The team discovered a total of 425 meteorites, with a total weight of 75kg during the 40 day expedition, at an altitude of 2,900m, 140km south of Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Antarctica research base. “This meteorite was a very unexpected find for us, not only due to its weight, but because we don’t normally find such large meteorites in Antarctica”, said Vinciane Debaille, a geologist from Université Libre de Bruxelles, who led the Belgian team during the expedition. “This is the biggest meteorite found in East Antarctica for 25 years, so it’s a very special discovery for us, only made possible by the existence and location of Princess Elisabeth Antarctica.” The SAMBA project contributesto the US and Japan-led global collection of Antarctic meteorites, and is an initiative of VUB and ULB, in collaboration with the Japanese Institute of Polar Research. SAMBA is supported by the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) and the International Polar Foundation. Initial field analysis by the scientists suggests that the 18kg meteorite is an ordinary chondrite, the most abundant kind of meteorite. The fusion crust – the meteorite’s outer casing - was eroded, allowing the scientists to inspect the rock underneath. The meteorite is currently undergoing a special thawing process in Japan – to ensure water doesn’t get inside the rock - but will be brought to Belgium in the future. “We study meteorites in order to better understand how the solar system formed, how it evolved, how the Earth became such a unique planet in our solar system”, said Debaille. “This season’s SAMBA mission was a success both in terms of the number and weight of the meteorites we found. Two years ago, we found less than 10kg. This year, we found so much that we had to call the travel agency – because we had 75kg of meteorites to take home”. Princess Elisabeth Antarctica is the world’s first zero emission polar research station, and is operated by the International Polar Foundation, in partnership with the Belgian Polar Secretariat. Princess Elisabeth Antarctica’s design and construction seamlessly integrates passive building technologies, renewable wind and solar energy, water treatment facilities, continuously monitored power demand and a smart grid for maximising energy efficiency. Located in East Antarctica’s Sør Rondane Mountains, Princess Elisabeth Antarctica welcomes scientists from around the world to conduct research in this little-studied and pristine environment. “Both Princess Elisabeth Antarctica and the International Polar Foundation are proud to support the research work of the Belgian and Japanese meteorite team”, said expedition leader Alain Hubert. “By providing solid logistics and field accomodation solutions to scientists working on the ice, we can ensure they can concentrate on what they have come to Antarctica to achieve: unlocking of Nature’s mysteries and broadening understanding of our planet”. To find out more about science at Princess Elisabeth Antarctica and life in the frozen south, visit Inside the Station – an interactive exhibition that takes visitors on a journey inside Belgium’s zero emission polar research centre - currently taking place at Tour & Taxis, Brussels.
Monday, March 25, 2013
SCIENTISTS AT PRINCESS ELISABETH ANTARCTICA DISCOVER 18KG ANTARCTIC METEORITE.
Friday, November 30, 2012
Archaeologists Identify Oldest Spear Points: Used in Hunting Half-Million Years Ago
Nov. 15, 2012 — A collaborative study involving researchers at Arizona State University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Cape Town found that human ancestors were making stone-tipped weapons 500,000 years ago at the South African archaeological site of Kathu Pan 1 -- 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. This study, "Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology," is published in the November 16 issue of the journal Science. Attaching stone points to spears (known as "hafting") was an important advance in hunting weaponry for early humans. Hafted tools require more effort and foreplanning to manufacture, but a sharp stone point on the end of a spear can increase its killing power. "There is a reason that modern bow-hunters tip their arrows with razor-sharp edges. These cutting tips are extremely lethal when compared to the effects from a sharpened stick. Early humans learned this fact earlier than previously thought," said Benjamin Schoville, a coauthor of this study and doctoral student affiliated with the Institute of Human Origins, a research center of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. Hafted spear tips are common in Stone Age archaeological sites after 300,000 years ago. This study shows that hafted spear tips were also used in the early Middle Pleistocene, a period associated with Homo heidelbergensis, the last common ancestor of Neandertals and modern humans. "Rather than being invented twice, or by one group learning from the other, stone-tipped spear technology was in place much earlier," said Schoville. "Although both Neandertals and humans used stone-tipped spears, this is the first evidence that this technology originated prior to or near the divergence of these two species." "It now looks like some of the traits that we associate with modern humans and our nearest relatives can be traced further back in our lineage," said Jayne Wilkins, lead author from the University of Toronto. "This changes the way we think about early human adaptations and capacities before the origin of our own species." Point function was determined by comparing wear on the ancient points to damage inflicted on modern experimental points used to spear a springbok carcass target with a calibrated crossbow. This method has been used effectively to study weaponry from more recent contexts in the Middle East and southern Africa. "When points are used as spear tips, there is a lot of damage that forms at the tip of the point, and large distinctive fractures form. The damage on these ancient stone spear points is remarkably similar to those produced with our calibrated crossbow experiment, and we demonstrate they are not easily created from other processes," said coauthor Kyle Brown, a skilled stone tool replicator with the University of Cape Town. The points were recovered during 1979-1982 excavations by Peter Beaumont of the McGregor Museum, Kimberly, South Africa. In 2010, a team directed by coauthor Michael Chazan from the University of Toronto reported that the point-bearing deposits at KP1 dated to around 500,000 years ago using optically stimulated luminescence and U-series/electron spin resonance methods. The dating analyses were carried out by Naomi Porat, Geological Survey of Israel, and Rainer Grün, Australian National University.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Metis. Hesiod, Theogony 886 ff : "Zeus, as king of the gods, took as his first wife Metis, and she knew more than all the gods or mortal people. But when she was about to be delivered of the goddess, gray-eyed Athene, then Zeus, deceiving her perception by treachery and by slippery speeches, put her away inside his own belly. This was by the advices of Gaia (Earth) and starry Ouranos (Sky), for so they counselled, in order that no other everlasting god, beside Zeus, should ever be given kingly position. For it had been arranged that, from her, children surpassing in wisdom should be born, first the gray-eyed girl, the Tritogeneia Athene . . . but then a son to be king over gods and mortals was to be born to her and his heart would be overmastering; but before this, Zeus put her away inside his own belly so that this goddess should think for him, for good and for evil."
Saturday, September 1, 2012
"... the stars wandered confusedly from their courses, and clashed together with a tremendous noise. The king, although greatly affected by this vision, did not disclose it to any person, but was conscious that some great event was about to take place. ... upon which the king ordered the Pyramids to be built, and the predictions of the priests to be inscribed upon columns, and upon the large stones belonging to them; and he placed within them his treasures, and all his valuable property, together with the bodies of his ancestors. He also ordered the priests to deposit within them written accounts of their wisdom and acquirements in the different arts and sciences. Subterraneous channels were also constructed to convey to them the waters of the Nile. He filled the passages with talismans, with wonderful things and idols, and with the writings of the priests, containing all manner of wisdom, the names and properties of medical plants, and the sciences of arithmetic and geometry, that they might remain as records, for the benefit of those who would afterwards comprehend them." -- Al-Masudi, historian, Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems, 947
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
"He [Democritus] said that the ordered worlds are boundless and differ in size, and that in some there is neither sun nor moon, but that in others, both are greater than with us, and yet with others more in number. And that the intervals between the ordered worlds are unequal, here more and there less, and that some increase, others flourish and others decay, and here they come into being and there they are eclipsed. But that they are destroyed by colliding with one another. And that some ordered worlds are bare of animals and plants and all water." -- Hippolytus, priest, 2nd century
NASA discovers first two-planet system orbiting twin suns.
It's been almost a year ago since we made our first discovery of an exoplanet orbiting two suns, prompting everyone to compare it to the planet Tattooine in the "Star Wars" universe. A handful of other planets orbiting two stars have been found since then, but the Kepler-47 system is special: It's the first twin star system discovered that has not one but two planets in orbit. This unusual system was discovered using data from the Kepler telescope that's responsible for numerous exoplanet finds. According to Kepler mission principal investigator William Borucki, "Unlike our sun, many stars are part of multiple-star systems where two or more stars orbit one another. The question always has been — do they have planets and planetary systems? This Kepler discovery proves that they do." The first star in the system is comparable to our sun in size, although only 84% as bright. The other is a dim star, measuring a third of the sun's size and only 1% as bright. Kepler-47b, one of the two planets that most probably has a blazing hot atmosphere due to its proximity to the stars, completes its orbit within 50 days. With a radius three times larger than Earth's, it's currently the smallest planet known to orbit two stars. The other planet, called Kepler-47c, is located much farther away and completes its orbit around the stars in 303 days. But even though it's located in the system's habitable zone, it's unlikely to support life — the planet is a gas giant that's slightly larger than Neptune. Kepler-47's discovery means exoplanet hunters now have to pay special attention to clusters of stars that may be hiding more than one planet. As Borucki said: "In our search for habitable planets, we have found more opportunities for life to exist."