archaeologicalnews

archaeologicalnews:

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Archaeologists have unveiled the most detailed map ever produced of the earth beneath Stonehenge and its surrounds.

They combined different instruments to scan the area to a depth of three metres, with unprecedented resolution.

Early results suggest that the iconic monument did not stand…

intelligibledirigible

historical-nonfiction:

Egyptian blue — a bright blue crystalline substance — is believed to be the first unnatural pigment in human history. Ancient Egyptians used a rare mineral, cuprorivaite, as inspiration for the color. Cuprorivaite was so rare searching and mining for it was impossible. Instead, using advanced chemistry for the time, Egyptians manufactured the color. It was made by mixing calcium compound (typically calcium carbonate), a copper-containing compound (metal filings or malachite), silica sand and soda or potash as a flux, then heating to between 850-950 C.

Egyptian blue was widely used in ancient times as a pigment in painting, such as in wall paintings, tombs and mummies’ coffins, and as a ceramic glaze known as Egyptian faience.  Its use spread throughout Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and the far reaches of the Roman Empire. It was often used as a substitute for lapis lazuli, an extremely expensive and rare mineral sourced in Afghanistan. After the decline of the Roman Empire, though, Egyptian Blue quickly disappeared from use.

Aaaaah, I get so excited about this ancient pigment stuff!  But we can’t talk about Egyptian Blue without also talking about Han Purple (more correctly called Chinese Purple, since its earliest occurrences predate the Han Dynasty).

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The famous Terracotta Warriors of Xi’an (which I have visited! lucky me) were originally painted a bright array of colors, including a remarkable purple - barium copper silicate.  Remarkable, because it doesn’t occur in nature, which means it was synthetically produced, which means that the Chinese were dabbling in inorganic chemistry almost three thousand years ago (most likely independent of the Egyptians).  Then it was lost somewhere in the labyrinth of history, until its rediscovery a few decades ago.  Even more remarkable, recent molecular analysis of BaCuSi2Ohas yielded unexpected results relevant to the science of superconductivity & quantum computing.  What?!  True!

Further reading:
The Mysterious Color Purple - Cosmos magazine
Purple Reign - Archaeology magazine
Han Purple - AsianArt.org

3-D Insulator Han Purple Loses a Dimension to Enter Magnetic ‘Flatland’ - Stanford News

davereed
I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.

Gerry Spence, How to Argue & Win Every Time (via scu)

File this under #non-sequitur. This isn’t even a coherent thought.

As Chesterton said somewhere, the purpose of an open mind is to close it on something solid. When it comes to belief, it’s not whether but what.

(via sds)

What sds said.

(via suchtango)

I suppose I can see how someone would say that belief closes the mind, but only in the same way as any other change in someone’s life attitude or conviction.  When someone does some reflection and decides that they are a feminist or atheist or revolutionist or whatever, it is, in essence, a closing of the mind to entertaining the antitheses of these things. All conviction is closed-mindedness.  What is to be feared is not a closed mind, but a mind unwilling to close on something important.

And faith is not a replacement for wonder; it is borne of it.

(via davereed)

Yuuup.  I will never tire of holding forth on this, especially the false dichotomy between science & faith

I suspect that the posted quote is meant to criticize belief systems & faiths (like Christianity, which happens to be mine; and yes, I’m voluntarily taking this personally, probably because I’m a woman), that this man disagrees with or simply finds distasteful.  Which doesn’t sound very open-minded to me, if open-mindedness means refusing to reject any idea you encounter out of respect for what you might not understand about it.  Pragmatically, of course, it would be impossible to live a sane human life that way.

You might say, “Whatever, you know what he means.”  And I think I do, maybe.  He means that some people do ugly, destructive things; and that he would rather side with constructiveness & celebration.  Fine.  He’s just phrased it clumsily by mismatching his parameters & unwittingly ended up with something akin to “Cake or Death?" (which is brilliant for the same reasons the quote is absurd).  We all eventually get death.  Hopefully, we get to enjoy cake along the way.  The two are not mutually exclusive. 

By the way, about that book title.

letsprocrastinap
arianejurquet:

“These delicate glass models reveal a hidden, yet beautiful, microscopic world of fungi. Examining mouldy fruit or rotten vegetables would disgust many people, but Dr. Dillon Weston (1899-1953) made studying fungal diseases of fruit and vegetables a lifetime’s passion. He created these models of the intricate fungi he saw down the microscope using glass rods and a Bunsen burner.” (via Glass Models of Microscopic Fungi.)

Tip of the hat to you, Dr. Weston.

arianejurquet:

“These delicate glass models reveal a hidden, yet beautiful, microscopic world of fungi. Examining mouldy fruit or rotten vegetables would disgust many people, but Dr. Dillon Weston (1899-1953) made studying fungal diseases of fruit and vegetables a lifetime’s passion. He created these models of the intricate fungi he saw down the microscope using glass rods and a Bunsen burner.”
(via Glass Models of Microscopic Fungi.)

Tip of the hat to you, Dr. Weston.

letsprocrastinap

biomedicalephemera:

Have some time on your hands? Know how to read? Want to help science?

Join me at the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers Transcription Center!

There are thousands of collection items, field journals, and cataloged diaries and specimens at the Smithsonian, and because the pages and data are hand-written or irregular, digital transcription is unable to decode them.

This is where the Digital Volunteers come in! By transcribing and double-checking the transcription efforts of others prior to final review by Smithsonian staffers, we save the Smithsonian thousands of hours of initial squinting and trying to make sense of semi-illegible words.

Cursive is largely not taught in schools anymore, but the scientific value of these documents and specimens will still be true long after we’re gone. By transcribing things now and getting them into a digital database that can be searched and organized, scientists and historians of both tomorrow and decades in the future will benefit.

There are more difficult transcription pieces (such as the top page posted here), as well as very simple and easy-to-read pieces, such as The Bumblebee Project (SO MANY BEES).

This is where I procrastinate, these days. It’s strangely addicting.

Don’t mind if I do.

letsprocrastinap
scienceyoucanlove:

Awesome shot of a healing wound Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a healing wound on the skin. There are red blood cells (erythrocytes) on the skin’s surface.Keratinocytes (skin cells that contain the protein keratin, centre) are forming a hard protective layer (scab) over the wound.Magnification x400, by Steve Gschmeissner
text source 

scienceyoucanlove:

Awesome shot of a healing wound 

Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a healing wound on the skin. There are red blood cells (erythrocytes) on the skin’s surface.

Keratinocytes (skin cells that contain the protein keratin, centre) are forming a hard protective layer (scab) over the wound.

Magnification x400, by Steve Gschmeissner

text source 

northeastnature
northeastnature:

Here’s something a little different. The lines on this rocky hill are glacial striations: scratches caused by debris stuck in flowing glaciers. What’s even cooler is that you can see the paths of three different glacial movements here:
One set of lines is from the broad glacial flow that buried the whole region,
One is from the later, diminished flow that was boxed in by the surrounding mountains, and
One is from the even more diminished flow from ice that was trapped in this one valley.

northeastnature:

Here’s something a little different. The lines on this rocky hill are glacial striations: scratches caused by debris stuck in flowing glaciers. What’s even cooler is that you can see the paths of three different glacial movements here:

  1. One set of lines is from the broad glacial flow that buried the whole region,
  2. One is from the later, diminished flow that was boxed in by the surrounding mountains, and
  3. One is from the even more diminished flow from ice that was trapped in this one valley.
thecryptocreep

markscherz:

rhamphotheca:

2 New Species of Helmetcrest Hummingbirds (amongst others) Recognized From South America

L - Buffy Helmetcrest (Oxypogon stubelii). Endemic to Colombia, located in the central mountain range (the paramos surrounding the Parque los Nevados). Photos: Oswaldo Cortés

R - White-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon linden), endemic to Venezuela and only present in the Andes of Venezuela. Photo - Peter Boesman

(read more: ProAves)

You guys don’t understand how rare it is to find new hummingbirds. There are over 300 species recognised, and the majority of them were described before the turn of the nineteenth century!