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Lost Civilizations: Human History Hidden in Plain Sight

first_img(Visited 102 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享1 New imaging techniques have revealed extensive ancient human settlements in two very different remote environments.Sahara civilization: By scanning satellite images, David Mattingly from the University of Leicester found that habitation of the Sahara from 1000 BC to 700 AD was much more widespread than realized. Lizzie Wade at Science Magazine reports on a presentation given to the AAAS. In “Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations in unlikely places,” she says that Mattingly–…studies a culture known as the Garamantes, which began building a network of cities, forts, and farmland around oases in the Sahara of southern Libya around 1000 B.C.E….Many Garamantian structures are still standing in some form or another today, but very few have been visited by archaeologists. It’s hard to do fieldwork in the hot, dry, remote Sahara, Mattingly explains. “And that relative absence of feet on the ground leads to an absence of evidence” about the Garamantes and other cultures that may have thrived before the Islamic conquest of the region. But because many Garamantin sites haven’t been buried or otherwise destroyed, they show up in stunning detail in satellite photos. By analyzing such images, “in an area of about 2500 square kilometers, we’ve located 158 major settlements, 184 cemeteries, 30 square kilometers of fields, plus a variety of irrigation systems,” Mattingly says.That phrase “the Islamic conquest of the region” sounds hauntingly familiar, as ISIS makes inroads into modern Libya.Amazon civilization:  Just as startling was the presentation by José Iriarte, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter. He is using drones outfitted with radar and infrared cameras to peel away the story of ancient Amazonian dwellings. His findings are changing the paradigm about rain forest inhabitants:When ecologists look at the Amazon, they see “virgin wilderness” untouched by humans, Iriarte says. But thanks to the discovery of large-scale earthworks called geogylphs and terra preta—“black earth” that was purposely enriched by humans in the past—archaeologists have concluded that at least parts of the rainforest must have been home to large, agricultural settlements. “Now it’s time to start quantifying past human impact in different parts of the Amazon,” Iriarte says….If past cultures “farmed” the rainforest by cultivating helpful crops in specific places, their practices may have shaped which species grow where, even today—which could change the way we think about conservation in the Amazon. “The very biodiversity that we seek to safeguard may itself be a legacy of centuries or millennia of human intervention,” Iriarte says.Iriarte is rushing because development threatens to erase the signs of past civilization.Wade weighs the impact of these discoveries:What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common? Until recently, archaeologists would have told you they were both inhospitable environments devoid of large-scale human settlements. But they were wrong. Here today at the annual meeting of the AAAS (which publishes Science), two researchers explained how remote sensing technology, including satellite imaging and drone flights, is revealing the traces of past civilizations that have been hiding in plain sight.There could also be important lessons in considering the inhabitants of those areas today. If those areas once supported thriving cultures, why are they forsaken now?Remember the paradigm of jungle tribes, naked in a virgin forest, living close to nature like the early hunter gatherers of upwardly-evolving man frozen in time? Remember evolutionists depicting them as savages not as far on the evolutionary scale as civilized people? (That was Darwin’s view.) These new findings are flipping that image upside down. Their ancestors built extensive settlements, made large earthworks, and processed the soil. Those ancestors shaped the jungle environment by planting their preferred crops. If anything, today’s inner rainforest tribes have degenerated from those high levels of culture. The Garamantians built large structures, cemetaries and extensive irrigation systems.All through observable human history, we see evidence of human beings acting as highly capable and intelligent beings, capable of great works requiring long-term planning and social cooperation. From the first written records, we see accounting and long-distance trade. The picture fits the Biblical record of mankind’s dispersion after Babel, not a long, slow, gradual evolution. The environment was different, too. Satellite images show river beds under the Sahara that suggest a former rich habitat just a few thousand years ago; look how quickly it changed! It didn’t take millions of years. Egypt, Israel and Iraq probably were much more fertile than they are now, as would be expected for the days after the Flood. And on the other side of the world, large pluvial lakes in California and Nevada show evidence of vast inland seas that dried up into the hot deserts (like Death Valley) that they are today.All this evidence of rapid dispersion of intelligent humans into scattered civilizations in a time of different climate fits the Genesis record, not evolution.  “Archaeologists would have told you…. But they were wrong,” Wade said. Darwin’s teachings have misled history, archaeology and anthropology long enough. We have a written record; let’s use it. And let’s learn from the long-lost Garamantians that Islamic conquest means death and destruction. Those who love civilization and reason must band together against those who intent on destroying both.last_img read more

South African whizz-kid in line for Google award

first_imgLuke Taylor from Cape Town, a grade ninepupil, has beat more than 7 500 entrantsfrom over 90 countries to be chosen asone of the 15 finalists for the GoogleScience Fair competition.(Image: TechCentral) Taylor envisions his creation, Tribot, couldbe of great assistance to those strugglingwith existing graphic- and text-basedprogramming languages.(Image: Google)MEDIA CONTACTS• Shannon FallickConsultant: AfricaPractice+27 11 022 6564 or +27 83 721 4978RELATED ARTICLES• Google nurtures talent in South Africa• Google’s SMS internet for Uganda• Google SA seeks top pupil doodler• Mandela archive to go onlineRay MaotaSouth African grade nine pupil Luke Taylor has made it into the finals of the 2011 Google Science Fair competition, beating more than 7 500 entrants from over 90 countries with a computer program that enables a robot to act on instructions given in English.Taylor attends the German International School in Cape Town and is a self-described “robotics junkie”.Although he recently turned 15, he entered the competition before his birthday and is competing in the age 13 to 14 category with four other finalists.The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, on 11 July 2011.The grand prize is a US$50 000 (R339 000) university scholarship and a trip to the Galapagos Islands, 1 000km off Ecuador’s mainland.If Taylor wins his category, he will take home, among other prizes, a $25 000 (R169 000) scholarship and a personalised Lego colour mosaic set.There are also categories for ages 15 to 16 and ages 17 to 18 – both of which have five finalists.Taylor, who found out he was in the finals on his recent birthday, said: “It was great. I was sitting in my bedroom, refreshing the Google blog, when my name popped up. I flipped out, fell back on my chair and then ran around the house.”He said he hoped his programme could be used to help bed-ridden people so they could give instructions like: “Robot, go fetch a cup of juice.”Keeping cool“Programming robots can be slow and challenging. In trying to assist a beginner with the NXT Mindstorms set (a programmable robotics kit released by Lego), I asked myself whether it would not be possible to design an application that could translate English instructions directly into compilable code that the robot could execute,” said Taylor of his competition entry.“If successful, it should be of great assistance to those struggling with existing graphic- and text-based programming languages.”Taylor’s entry, named Tribot, uses an application developed by him called “Simple”, which analyses and translates English sentences into the programming language of C-code.Taylor has never had any formal training in software development or robotics coding and is currently working on modifications to improve his design.“I am feeling the pressure, of course, but I’m doing my best and trying to keep it cool.  I am allowed to modify the project and I am working on voice recognition,” he said.Stiff competitionTaylor’s is facing stiff competition in his category from his four rivals: Michelle Guo, Anand Srinivasan, Lauren Hodge and Daniel Arnold – all from the US.Guo’s project is an attempt to find ways to curb Alzheimer’s disease, which is the fifth-leading cause of death in people aged 65 and older. He has found that cinnamon and herbal sensitisers could have a positive impact on those suffering from the disease.Srinivasan’s project looks into ways that could make prosthetics more manoeuvrable – like a person’s original limb – with the use of electroencephalography.Hodge is experimenting with ways to decrease cariogens in chicken meat, while Arnold’s innovation involving the testing of railway switches could help eliminate train accidents.last_img read more

Rail disruption avoided with PTC extension

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Railroad companies have warned of potential service disruptions if the Dec. 31, 2015 statutory deadline for implementing positive train control (PTC) was not extended by Congress.PTC is a GPS-based train electronic system designed to prevent collisions and over-speed derailments. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandated that railroads implement PTC systems by Jan.  1, 2016 on lines that carry “toxic by inhalation” (TIH) materials, including anhydrous ammonia and chlorine, lines carrying 5 million or more gross tons every year, or any lines with “regularly scheduled intercity passenger or commuter rail services.”None of the railroads were going to meet the Dec. 31 deadline and they made statements that absent an extension of the PTC deadline, they would not transport TIH materials after Dec. 31. Some of their statements have suggested they would also cease any grain shipments and possibly all train movements.President Obama signed H.R. 3819, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2015, into law Oct. 29. H.R. 3819 extends surface transportation programs through Nov. 20 and includes the bipartisan-bicameral long-term extension of the PTC deadline.The Ohio AgriBusiness Association supported work by The Fertilizer Institute, the Agricultural Retailers Association, and the National Grain and Feed Association to help petition Congress to extend the legislation. The bill was sent to President Obama after the Senate unanimously approved a short-term extension of the highway bill that includes an extension of at least three years — Dec. 31, 2018 — to the deadline for rail carriers to implement positive train control (PTC) technology.The final version of the legislation contains a requirement that each of the carriers required to install PTC submit a revised PTC implementation plan within 90 days of enactment, with several significant reporting metrics designed to ensure that carriers implement PTC as soon as possible.However, it does allow carriers to file an alternative schedule that would allow up to an additional two years — Dec. 31, 2020 — contingent upon approval of the secretary of transportation. For the additional two-year extension to be granted, the carrier would be required to: 1) show it already has installed all PTC hardware where required; 2) already acquired all radio spectrums necessary to implement PTC; 3) already completed employee training; 4) in the case of Class I carriers and Amtrak, implemented PTC on the majority of its geographic territories or route miles; and 5) included an alternative schedule and sequence for implementing PTC as soon as practicable.In addition, annual progress reports on the status of PTC installation would be required, with the first reports required by March 31, 2016.The measure also had the support of the American Soybean Association (ASA) and other agricultural industry partners urging Congress to extend the PTC deadline to avoid any disruption in rail service.last_img read more

100 Days in Space – International Space Station Travel Bug Mission Update

first_img“What does your food taste like?” Students from Tinker School in Waterbury, Connecticut ask astronaut Rick Mastracchio and get the answer straight from space.Mastracchio says: “We have all kinds of food here on the space station. Most of the food has all the air and water removed to make it smaller and lighter. Then when we want to eat it we add water to it and it returns to its original form and shape. It does not taste as good as the food you have at home but it is pretty good.”Almost 100 days ago geocachers at more than 1100 events across the globe cheered a Travel Bug as it rocketed toward the International Space Station. Now the Travel Bug has circled the Earth many times (How many times a day? Find the answer here) and made up a mind blowing distance of more than 40 million miles.  More than 1200 posts have been logged so far on the Travel Bug page, as classrooms ask questions and Mastracchhio (Geocaching name AstroRM) answers them from zero-gravity.Also dangling in zero-gravity are hitchhikes attached to the famous Travel Bug. There’s a hitchhiker for each of the schools following Rick’s adventure from the Travel Bug page. It’s been so popular additional hitchhikers have been flown to the space station on supply missions. Each of the current schools will receive one of the Travel Bug hitchhikers once Rick returns to Earth in May of this year.Check out the Q&A with Astronaut Rick Mastracchio here. This is a great resource for teachers to bring to their classroom and anyone interested to learn about life on the ISS, geography and science. For the visual learner, have a look at the Pinterest board or check out the gallery on the trackable details page.Do you or your students have questions about space travel, that have not been answered yet? Post them on the Travel Bug details page! Let us know what school you are from, the grade, city, state and country!Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedGeocaching in Space – Q&A with Astronaut Rick MastracchioFebruary 10, 2014In “Community”Behind the Scenes: My Travel Bug®’s Mission to SpaceOctober 16, 2013In “Community”Track a Travel Bug in SpaceOctober 20, 2013In “Community”last_img read more