This is how matter can be both liquid and solid at the same time

It’s not every day we learn about a new state of physical matter, but today is such a day. Rather than your typical solid, gas, or liquid, scientists have confirmed a new “chain-melted state” that is simultaneously solid and liquid at the same time. The state is thermodynamically stable, and a new discovery. It’s also quite weird.

Now consider that this exotic and improbable-sounding matter has been inside our bodies all along. It’s a newly discovered state of potassium atoms, an alkali metal first isolated from the ashes of plants. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps your nerves to function and allows your muscles to contract. It helps your heart to beat and facilitates moving nutrients in and out of cells.

“Potassium is one of the simplest metals we know, yet if you squeeze it, it forms very complicated structures,” explained the study coauthor.

The atoms of potassium can be changed under high pressure and temperature to this new state. This state could occur within the Earth’s mantle right now but is improbable since potassium is not usually found in a pure form. In fact, most of the matter (as we know it) in the universe exists under high temperature and pressure, inside stars and planets. This means that chain-melted dual-state matter could exists just about everywhere.

The study was presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science by coauthor, Andreas Hermann of the University of Edinburgh.

“It’s kind of strange,” says Hermann. “It would be like holding a sponge filled with water that starts dripping out, except the sponge is also made of water,” he says.

Imagine holding a sponge that is both a liquid and solid at once, and you can see why it’s slightly mind-bending. This new state of matter could have a wide range of applications. According to Metro, the researchers believe about six other elements, including sodium and bismuth, are capable of existing in this new state.

According to National Geographic, the discovery was not made by human beings, but by an artificial intelligence machine.

“Hermann and his colleagues turned to simulations to find out, using what’s known as a neural network—an artificial intelligence machine that learns how to predict behavior based on prior examples. After being trained on small groups of potassium atoms, the neural network learned quantum mechanics well enough to simulate collections containing tens of thousands of atoms.”

Scientists have known for many years that metals similar to potassium change their molecular structure in surprising ways when compressed. Another similar common metal, sodium changes from an orderly structure to a complex crystal formation that becomes transparent.

See an experiment that changed sodium  below (do not try at home):

Like sodium, potassium changes under high temperature and pressure in an elaborate way. Researchers argue about what actually happens as the atoms form latticed X shapes with separate chains that disappear as the temperature climbs. The chains convert to liquid while the X shaped crystals of potassium remain in solid form.

See more below:

Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube

Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks To Katy Perry About Aliens — And It Gets Weird Fast

Many think of alien talk as outside the realm of acceptability, but it’s picking up mainstream attention fast. Even people like pop star Katy Perry feel more comfortable talking about space, conspiracy, and even aliens! Recently, Perry sat down with Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium since 1996 and host of the Emmy-award winning show Star Talk.

Fun fact: For this episode, one of Tyson’s co-hosts, former SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata, was named after an alien crystal from Star Trek. Tyson begins his talk with Perry at her home in Los Angeles.

In Perry’s estimation, one of the things that keeps regular people away from science is fear:

“Why don’t people like science?” Perry asked. “I think they’re scared of it, maybe. Scared of the unknown.”

But Perry herself doesn’t seem too afraid of the unknown. In fact, a detail that emerged from the interview is that she has a ticket reserved for space.

Entrepreneur Richard Branson has a project in the works called the Virgin Galactic, whose mission is to take people to the stars — commercially. The project was founded in 2004, but has suffered its fair share of setbacks, including the death of one of its pilots.

This didn’t deter celebrities like Perry from signing up (and buying her ex-fiancé Russell Brand a ticket for his 35th birthday).

However, she admitted to Tyson that she took the ticket back.

“I’ll be number 562,” Perry said. “I’m a little bit anxious about it, because it’s the unknown! And like, you know, gravity and stuff.”

In 2011, Perry released her hit song E.T., so it wasn’t a shocker to fans that she has an obsession with aliens.

Check out some of the lyrics:

Kiss me, k-k-kiss me
Infect me with your love and fill me with your poison
Take me, t-t-take me
Wanna be a victim, ready for abduction
Boy, you’re an alien, your touch so foreign
It’s supernatural, extraterrestrial

Even more, Perry ran her idea by Tyson of living in a simulation run by aliens. She referenced another of her songs called “Chained to the Rhythm” to explain her obsession with the idea that we could be trapped in what she describes as an “ant farm.”

“That’s what the ant farm in there [E.T.] represents,” said Perry. “Sometimes we are chained to this idea … and constructs and things that we think we should be or things that the world tells us to be … how do we think for ourselves? Or can we even think for ourselves?”


Perry’s idea might sound a little out there, but philosophers have toyed with this forever, all the way back to the third century. Science fiction also plays with this theme, with films like Inception challenging the idea of what it means to be “awake” and “dreaming,” and how you would tell the difference. They both feel real while they’re happening, don’t they?

Tyson Katy Perry“So comfortable we’re living in a bubble, bubble. So comfortable we cannot see the trouble, trouble.” — Chained To The Rhythm

Frankly, that idea boggles the mind. That might be why Perry vowed to “press Ctrl, Alt, Delete on this whole situation.”

Perry offered one of her most dazzling insights when Tyson asked what she would do if aliens visited us here on earth. Reactions to this question in sci-fi movies are always varied. In the 2016 movie Arrival, Amy Adams plays a linguist charged with deciphering first contact with extraterrestrials. And throughout the film, Adams struggles to explain to other characters the importance of thinking before behaving rashly to otherworldly visitors.

And Perry’s answer to the question likely made every fictional scientist ignored by a five-star general jump with glee.

“I would just listen … hello? We can only go 35,000 feet without costumes? I’mma listen.”

“I Believe In Something Much Bigger Than Me”

At one point, Perry even took the reins of the conversation and went on a spiritual journey.

“Do you believe you have a soul?” she asked.

“I don’t know what a soul is,” said Tyson.

The origin of the idea of a soul is far too complicated to go into right now. However, suffice it to say that it continues to confound and fascinate thinkers throughout the ages. If we could pin down a definition, it might be a meaningful question to ask whether life from other planets would have that.

Lastly, Perry shared some of her personal cosmic beliefs with Tyson.

“Look, I don’t know if it’s the god that’s old and has a long beard … but it’s like a force … [it’s probably going] ‘Stop trying to figure out who I am, try and figure out who you are.”

To check out Perry’s complete interview, click here!

Feature image credit (Neil Degrasse-Tyson):  NASA

Feature image credit (Katy Perry): Joella Marano

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Makes History as it Enters in Orbit Around Asteroid Bennu

It’s a giant leap for mankind.

At 2:43 p.m. EST (7:43 GMT) on December 31, 2018 when the world was getting ready to say goodbye to 2018, and welcome a new year, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft was busy getting ready to enter into orbit around asteroid Bennu — making history and setting new records for the smallest body ever orbited by a spacecraft and the closest orbit of a planetary body by any spacecraft.

NASA hailed this historic achievement as “a leap for humanity” because no other spacecraft has ever “orbited so close to such a small cosmic, one with gravity barely enough to keep a vehicle in a stable orbit.”

“The gravity of Bennu is so small, forces like solar radiation and thermal pressure from Bennu’s surface become much more relevant and can push the spacecraft around in its orbit much more than if it were orbiting around Earth or Mars, where gravity is by far the most dominant force,” explained Dan Wibben, maneuver and trajectory design lead.

Now that the spacecraft is orbiting the potentially hazardous asteroid, it will start collecting data and images of the space rock.

At about 11.8 miles (19 kilometers) from Bennu’s Sun-facing surface, OSIRIS-REx will begin a preliminary survey of the asteroid explained NASA.

OSIRIS-REx will begin flyovers of Bennu’s north pole, equatorial region, and south pole, and during its flyby’s it is expected to get as close as nearly 4 miles (7 kilometers) above the asteroid’s surface.

The $ 800 million unmanned spacecraft was launched two years ago from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived on December 3 at its destination, some 110 million kilometers away.

NASA plans for OSIRIS-REx to orbit Bennu until mid-February, using a set of five scientific instruments to map the asteroid in high resolution to help scientists decide precisely where to obtain samples from.

The spacecraft will eventually lower down to the surface of the asteroid, and, using a mechanical arm, collect soil samples from the ancient asteroid, in what has been dubbed as a delicate ‘cosmic high-five’.

Then, in 2020, the spacecraft will begin its journey back to Earth and transport the precious, never-before-seen material to our planet where scientists will await eagerly to study it.

“As explorers, we at NASA have never shied away from the most extreme challenges in the solar system in our quest for knowledge,” hailed Lori Glaze, acting director for NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

“Now we’re at it again, working with our partners in the U.S. and Canada to accomplish the Herculean task of bringing back to Earth a piece of the early solar system.”

Our Solar System Could Be Destroyed As Our Galaxy Collides With A Cosmic Neighbor

Image Credit: WikiImages / Pixabay.

It’s a collision that can’t be stopped, and no, it’s not Andromeda that will crash into our galaxy.

A galaxy is approaching the Milky Way on a collision course in an event that could alter our cosmic neighborhood and send the Solar System into the void of intergalactic space, scientists have warned.

The collision could happen sooner than expected. For those of you who ask whether its Andromeda that we are talking about, it is not.

While the Milky Way and Andromeda are expected to collide in the very distant future, scientists have recently warned that another galactic collision could happen much sooner, reports the Guardian.

The approaching galaxy is a small satellite galaxy that orbits the Milky Way: The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and it is expected to collide with our galaxy in around 2.5 Billion years–or so.

In comparison, Andromeda is expected to crash into the Milky Way in about 4 billion years.

“The LMC is big but it won’t completely destroy our galaxy,” scientists explained.

“It’ll produce these amazing fireworks, but it doesn’t have the mass to create a huge disturbance. The collision with Andromeda really will be Armageddon. That really will be the end of the Milky Way as we know it.”

The new scientific study suggests that the massive collision will take place and cannot be stopped, and when that happens, it could dramatically affect our Solar System.

The good news, of course, is that humanity will probably be long gone by then, and have colonized the vastness of space.

The new research was conducted by scientists with Durham University, who investigated the relationship between the Milky Way and its orbiting galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC for short).

The strange thing is that as I am writing this, the LMC is actually moving away from our Galaxy.

But as explained by scientists the LMC which is currently located at about 63,000 light-years away will change course and start moving towards us.

New scientific models support theories that the LMC will eventually alter its course and alter its trajectory on a collision course with the Milky Way.

And while the cosmic collision is expected to take place, scientists believe individual stars and planets in both galaxies are unlikely to collide, as the LMC, weighing around 250 Billion Suns crashes into the Milky Way.

“The whole of the Milky Way will be shaken and the entire solar system could be ejected into outer space,” explained Carlos Frenk, director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham.

“If that happens, I don’t see how our descendants, if we have any, will be able to withstand it.”

Great Barrier Reef Survey Finds Corals Thriving In Deeper Waters Despite Climate Change (VIDEO)

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system. It’s so large, in fact, that it can be seen from outer space. Home to more than 1500 species of fish, this reef is also a haven for six sea turtle species, 30 species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. And it’s a crucial nesting and feeding habitat for 215 species of birds, reports.

But climate change has taken a devastating toll on this ancient reef that is potentially 20 million years old. Built by living corals by row upon row of dead ones, the reef suffered severe bleaching events in 1998 and 2002 as well as in 2016 and 2017. And other factors, including sediment buildup, nutrient and agricultural pesticide pollution from river runoff is compounding the problem.

Bleached corals at Heron Island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Image license CC SA 3.0 by Acropora via Wikimedia Commons

Considered one of the seven natural wonders in the world, half of the Great Barrier Reef has now been killed by coral bleaching caused by climate change since 2016, National Geographic reports. In 2016, bleaching killed 30 percent of the reef, while an additional 20 percent was killed in 2017.

Fortunately, there’s a bright light in the darkness. Scientists previously thought the deeper reefs in this magnificent system only contained 32 species of corals, UPI reports. But new research, published earlier this week in the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B, show that roughly half of the coral species living in the Great Barrier Reefs can also be found on deeper reefs.

Deeper reefs provide protection from bleaching and heat waves on the surface. The researchers’ findings suggest that these habitats could provide sanctuary for species threatened by global warming. Nearly all coral lineages were found living among the deep reefs, and that means these deepwater habitats could preserve their diversity as well.

Great Barrier Reef corals near the coast of Queensland, Australia. Image license Attribution 2.0 by Kyle Taylor via Flickr

Researchers with the Queensland Museum plunged to depths between 100 and 150 feet and focused primarily on corals living at these depths during dozens of expeditions. A November report warned that Earth’s corals face numerous environmental threats, and current efforts utilized to protect them are insufficient.

But amazingly, coral diversity continues to astound scientists, especially after a huge reef was discovered off the coast of South Carolina in August. Located two thousand feet below the water, the 85-mile-long reef is festooned with corals. And that’s also a bit of good news, but quite obviously efforts to protect this newly-discovered reef need to be stepped up.

In their report on the Great Barrier Reef, researchers noted:

“Deeper reef areas are clearly more diverse than previously acknowledged and therefore deserve full consideration in our efforts to protect the world’s coral reef biodiversity.”

Although corals resemble plants, they are actually tiny animals that attach themselves to the ocean floor, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports. They have tiny tentacles that they use to sweep particles of food into their mouths.

Bleaching occurs when unnaturally hot water kills tiny algae that corals depend on for their survival. Algae feed the corals and in turn, are provided with nutrients and shelter. But when the situation heats up, corals become too stressed and expel the algae, starving as a result. This is the reason we see all these starkly white coral skeletons.

Worldwide, coral reefs support more than 4,000 species of fish and 800 species of hard corals along with hundreds of other species, the NOAA reports. and scientists estimate they may harbor another one to eight million species yet to be discovered.

And coral reefs are economically important as well. Each year they provide an estimated $375 million in goods and services. When you consider that they cover less than one percent of the Earth’s surface, that’s pretty amazing.

Coral reefs provide food and shelter for fish. Image license Attribution 2.0 by Kyle Taylor via Flickr

If anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change continues, the IUCN estimates that all of the 29 beautiful coral reefs that are considered to be world heritage sites will die by the end of this century. Many countries have aligned themselves with the Paris Agreement, which holds that limiting global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels can be one way to protect corals. If countries can limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C or less, reefs can be saved.

While President Donald Trump has rejected the famous agreement, the U.S. is still very much involved, but it’s sadly pushing an agenda that favors Big Coal, Climate Change News reports.

So while it’s good news that corals can survive in deeper waters, if we truly are to protect them, there’s obviously still much work to be done.

Watch the beautiful video below to find out about corals living in the deeper stretches of the Great Barrier Reef.

Featured image license CC Attribution 2.0 by Kyle Taylor via Flickr

Martian Mystery: NASA Finds Shiny ‘Object’ On Mars, Sends Rover To Investigate

It’s probably not aliens. 

NASA’s Curiosity rover has photographed an odd object on the Martian Surface. Since scientists have no idea what the object is, it’s sending the rover to take a closer look.

One theory suggests the object is a half-buried meteorite “because it is so shiny.”

Curiosity touched down on Mars in 2012, and since it began its mission six years ago, it has helped us understand a great deal about Mars and what the planet was like in the distant past.

Along the way, it has photographed thousands of images on Mars thanks to its 17 cameras, and some of the images seem to show odd objects and shapes on the Martian Surface.

These ‘strange objects’ in the images have since been ‘analyzed’ by conspiracy theorists who believe some of the artifacts on Mars are evidence of a long-lost Martian civilization.

But conspiracy theorists aren’t the only ones who believe Mars may have supported an advanced civilization on its surface in the distant past.

Dr. John Brandenburg is a well-respected NASA scientist who has participated in a number of NASA missions in the past.

According to him, there is evidence that a catastrophic nuclear war occurred in the distant past on Mars, which caused the Martian civilization to be wiped out.

I’ve written about Dr. Brandernburg and his claims a number of times. You can read more about his Martian civilization theory here.

In brief, Dr. Bradenburg has claimed that:

“…based on new data, evidence that during this period of Earth-like climate, biological evolution produced, at length, a humanoid civilization leaving ruins at several sites, Cydonia Mensa and Galaxias Chaos being two sites most intensively investigated. Data from these sites formed the basis for the Cydonian Hypothesis (Brandenburg, DiPietro, and Molenaar, 1991) of an ancient, indigenous, approximately Bronze Age civilization on Mars.”

“Mars xenon is found to match closely the component in the Earth’s atmosphere produced by Earth’s nuclear weapons programs, both hydrogen bomb testing, and plutonium production, both of which involve large amounts of fission with fast neutrons. It is found that Mars xenon can be approximated by a mixture of 70% Nuclear Testing xenon, mixed with 30% natural Earth xenon, suggesting that Mars xenon was similar to Earth’s before a large nuclear event altered it dramatically.”

It is perhaps because of similar theories that many conspiracy theories see so many objects on Mars which they believe are artificial in nature. 

But most of the time all of the weird shapes and rocks on Mars can be explained by Pareidolia; a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists.

So what about the shiny object on mars?

Curiosity team member Suzanne Schwenzer joked that Rover has been “hunting shiny things!”

Well, NASA is sending Curiosity back to the mystery object (dubbed Little Colonsay) where the rover is going to use its ChemCam instrument and analyze the object in detail.

Curiosity’s ChemCam fires a laser and then studies the composition of the vaporized material. 

“The planning team thinks it might be a meteorite because it is so shiny. But looks can deceive and the proof will only come from the chemistry. Unfortunately, the small target was missed in the previous attempt, and with the information from that, Curiosity will try again,” explained Schwenzer.

New Theory Of Consciousness: The Ancients And The Hippies Were Right All Along About ‘Vibes’

Ahhh, the “Hard Problem.” It’s the neuroscience riddle of them all that remains unsolved by humans after thousands of years. The question is this: What is consciousness?

Put another way:

“In other words, how does a three-pound lump of dendrites and axons and sodium channels create a loving, sorrowing, self-knowing self? Show your work,” wrote Alexis Soloski for the New York Times.

Soloski was covering a 2015 play by Tony Award-winning playwright, Tom Stoppard, called, “The Hard Problem.” It’s a phrase first coined by philosopher David Chalmers in the mid-’90s. Although the question has persisted forever, it seems we might be closer to understanding it at last.

The play centers on the question of all questions, incorporating the ancient doctrine of panpsychism, the idea that consciousness is universal, from humans to animals, to inanimate objects like the computer or smartphone you are reading this on. That’s right, every bit of matter around us has consciousness and always has.

“[…] consciousness did not emerge at some point during evolution. Rather, it’s always associated with matter and vice versa – they’re two sides of the same coin.

Panpsychism runs against the human exceptionalist idea that only human beings possess a soul. It runs counter to traditional religious thinking, originating with the ancient Greeks. It’s “The oldest of all philosophical doctrines extant.” Panpsychism harmonizes with the Buddhist belief in the universal nature of mind.

The Hippie movement of the 60s took it and ran with it intuitively with the idea that:

“It’s all about the vibrations…man.”

After all these years, the idea that all matter has some at least rudimentary level of consciousness created by vibrations is catching on once more. The last two centuries of human exceptionalism are giving way to the wisdom of the ancients and the hippies to solve the mind-body problem. It’s may not be only human beings who can claim to be sentient beings, after all, as shocking as that may seem.

Even the concrete floor vibrates and shares waves with its surroundings, which translates to a tiny bit of information.

“Any system that possesses some nonzero amount of integrated information experiences something. Let me repeat: any system that has even one bit of integrated information has a very minute conscious experience,” wrote neuroscientist, Christoff Koch.

Today, panpsychism is the philosophical view “most consistent with the deluge of current scientific data about mind in nature,” according to Tam Hunt. He and university psychologists and philosophers have come together to develop the “resonance theory of consciousness,” building on the work of German neurophysiologist, Pascal Fries. He studied how electrical patterns sync in the brain.

University of California, professor Tam Hunt, believes that the Hippies were really onto something big.

“We suggest that resonance – another word for synchronized vibrations – is at the heart of not only human consciousness but also animal consciousness and of physical reality more generally. It sounds like something the hippies might have dreamed up – it’s all vibrations, man! – but stick with me.”

Since all matter in the universe is in a constant state of motion, it vibrates at different frequencies. What’s really interesting is that these vibrations often seem to work together, syncing up for an unknown reason to vibrate at the same frequency together. It’s self-organization. This runs counter to Murphy’s law, that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” and against the concept of entropy in the universe. Rather than going toward disorder, matter and life can become synchronized.

One example that Hunt offers:

“When fireflies of certain species come together in large gatherings, they start flashing in sync, in ways that can still seem a little mystifying.”

The tendency for matter to vibrate in waves that sync together facilitates communication with neighboring matter. Waves of various wavelengths, such as Gamma, Beta, and Alpha waves are sent out into the universe. Hunt believes that more powerful Gamma waves synchronized together facilitate perception, meditation, and focused consciousness. When neurons vibrate at the same frequency together, it leads to higher and more complex consciousness.

On the other hand, even an object like a rock can exchange information internally through heat and thermal pathways. There isn’t as much “going on” consciously, but the vibrations are present as “mere aggregates.”

You might see where this is going. Higher consciousness arises from a shared resonance, combining relatively simple aggregates into a larger group consciousness. Does that mean there is a “collective soul?” Maybe in some cases.

Are our own bodies not collections of microscopic cells that work together to form a collective consciousness?

“[…] in biological structures with the right kind of information pathways and processing power, these tendencies toward self-organization can and often do produce larger-scale conscious entities.

These philosophers and neuroscientists are returning to the ancient ways of thinking to answer the age-old mind-body questions anew. While some continue to believe that language determines consciousness, the reality may be that “language” can be broken down at a primary level to waves, resonance, and vibrations.

Do you feel the vibe? Right on, man.

Explore the metaphysics of panpsychism below:

See more about “The Hard Problem” with Tom Stoppard below:

Featured image: New Age image via Pixabay

Largest Structure On Earth Is 4,000 Years Old, Visible From Space, And Wasn’t Built by Humans

It’s not aliens either. But it is as close as it can get.

The largest structures on Earth, covering an area the size of Great Britain–are up to about 4,000 years old.

Furthermore, the amount of soil excavated to build the structures averages over 10 cubic kilometers, which is equivalent to just about 4,000 great pyramids of Giza.

The mysterious mounds were not built by human hands, but rather by termites.

According to a study published in ‘Current Biology‘, the vast array of regular spaced termite mounds are still inhabited to this day.

The mounds are so large they are visible from Google Earth.

Scientists say they are not nests. These structures are the result of “the insects’ slow and steady excavation of a network of interconnected underground tunnels,” explain researchers.

According to researchers, the termite’s activities over periods of thousands of years has resulted in massive quantities of soil being excavated and deposited in approximately 200 million cone-shaped mounds. The mounds average around 2.5 meters in height and as much as 9 meters across.

“These mounds were formed by a single termite species that excavated a massive network of tunnels to allow them to access dead leaves to eat safely and directly from the forest floor,” says Stephen Martin of the University of Salford in the UK.

Image: Sketch showing the mound structure and network of major tunnels (solid lines) and smaller vertical foraging tunnels (dashed lines). Credit: Current Biology.

“The amount of soil excavated is over 10 cubic kilometers, equivalent to 4,000 great pyramids of Giza, and represents one of the biggest structures built by a single insect species.”

“This is apparently the world’s most extensive bioengineering effort by a single insect species,” adds Roy Funch of Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana in Brazil. “Perhaps most exciting of all–the mounds are extremely old–up to 4,000 years, similar to the ages of the pyramids.”

Despite being one of the largest structures on the Earth, the massive mounds remain well hidden from view, tucked away in the semiarid, thorny-scrub caatinga forests unique to northeastern Brazil.

Soil samples analysis taken by experts from the center of the mounds indicate that they were filled 690 to 3,820 years ago.

The mound pattern created by the termites is thought to have come into existence through self-organizational processes.

The mounds are interconnected by vast tunnels which allowed termites to minimize their travel time from any location in the colony to the nearest waste mound, giving them access to a sporadic food supply.

“It’s incredible that, in this day and age, you can find an ‘unknown’ biological wonder of this sheer size and age still existing, with the occupants still present,” experts concluded.

Curiously, the queen’s chamber has never been found.

Extraordinary Find Changes Date Of Pompeii’s Destruction

It’s a discovery that rewrites history books.

An extraordinary charcoal inscription has revealed that the catastrophic volcanic eruption that destroyed Pompeii and other surrounding cities occurred two months later than archaeologists thought until now.

It was firmly believed that the disaster occurred on August 27, 79 AD.

However, recent excavations on the archaeological site in southern Italy have yielded a carbachol inscription etched on a wall that includes the date the volcanic eruption actually took place: On October 17th.

The charcoal writing was discovered from an area in a house that was being renovated at that time, just before Vesuvius erupted, effectively burying the city of Pompeii Oplontis, and Stabiaeunder a massive blanket of ash and rock.

The discovery etched on the wall of a house in Pompeii reads: “the 16th day before the calends of November”, meaning 17 October.

“Being charcoal, fragile and evanescent, which could not last a long time, it is more than likely that it was written in October 79 AD,” said Massimo Osanna, head of the Pompeii site.

The discovery was made on a house renovated just before the eruption occurred, which is why experts believe that the writing would have been covered with plaster shortly after.

“That could help explain why, next to rooms with frescoed walls and ceilings, and with cemented floors — in some cases with tiles or marble slabs — there were some areas with plastered walls or even without floors, like the atrium and the entrance corridor,” archeologists explained.

The previous date, August 24, comes from an account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius given by Pliny the Younger, a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome.

He witnessed the eruption and wrote about it nearly thirty years later when he described the catastrophic event in two letters to his friend Tacitus.

There have already been a few indications discovered that suggest the eruption did not take place in August.

For example, researchers have uncovered in previous excavations a calcified branch with berries that did not normally come in autumn. 

Osanna argues that the correct date of the eruption is October 24, 79 AD.

“It is highly probable that it can be dated to the October of AD 79, and more precisely to a week prior to the great catastrophe, which according to this hypothesis occurred on the 24th October,” the archeological team explained in a statement.

“Today, with a lot of humility, maybe we’re rewriting the history books because we’re dating the eruption to the second half of October,” Alberto Bonisoli, Minister of Culture in the Conte Cabinet hailed.

It is believed that more than 30,000 people lost their lives in the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, with bodies still being discovered in Italy to this day.

The ancient City of Pompeii is the second most-visited tourist site in Italy, after the Colosseum in Rome. It receives more than 3 million visitors in the first eight months of this year.

Featured image via

A Time Machine For The Gods—Ancient Cosmic Calendar With Over 1,000 Petroglyphs Found In Arizona

“It’s a time machine for the gods…”

An astonishing discovery has been made in Arizona’s Verde Valley.

Researchers have come across an ancient calendar carved into stone that has remained hidden for nearly one thousand years. The calendar.

More than 1,000 petroglyphs were most likely created by the ancients as a way to ‘track time’ using the sun, say experts.

According to the Arizona Daily sun, around 1,000 intricate petroglyphs were carved into the rack more than 900 years ago by the Southern Sinagua people.  The Sinagua culture inhabited the region between the seventh and fifteenth centuries, farming the region growing corn, cotton, squash, and beans.

Photo by Jacob Ufkes on Unsplash

More than thousands of symbols were etched by ancient man in the distant past on the red rocks of the V-Bar-V Historic Site.

At first glance, these symbols may appear nearly impossible to decipher as one symbol was etched next to the other one. However, what experts did not know is that they needed the help of the sun.

Once the sun sits in the right place, every symbol tells a different story.

V-V Heritage Site. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Now, experts believe that the red rocks in Arizona’s Verde Valley may have been used by ancient cultures as a calendar, or even as a device that helped them track time using the sun.

“It’s a time machine for the gods to tell you it’s time for a ceremony,” said Scott Newth, an officer with the Arizona Archaeological Society, who tracks rock art across the region.

The symbols etched in stone were intricately carved to mark the passing seasons and onset of important agricultural periods, using only the position of the sun.

Researchers found that at the beginning of summer, and the longest day of the year, two specific crocks from Arizona’s Verde Valley cast a shadow onto a corn plant.

Six months later, the sun instead shines through the space between.

Petroglyphs at V-Bar-V Ranch, Arizona. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

According to the BBC, this ancient calendar remained unnoticed for centuries, until volunteers rediscovered it at the site in 2005.

Researchers found that as the sun would change position in the sky, it would light and cast shadows on features carved in tock, aligning with specific images that held both an agricultural and ceremonial meaning.

Some of the petroglyphs highlight solstices, equinox and other important astronomical events throughout the year.

Kenneth Zoll, Executive Director at the Verde Valley Archaeology Center and Museum, said in an interview with BBC that: ‘This was a way to track time.’

However, experts note that the calendar created by the Sinagua people isn’t the only one out there.

Many other calendars exist in the Verde Valley that may have been used by the inhabitants of the region to track time and important astronomical events.

These calendars and symbols may have been the work of ancient travelers, who taught local tribes in other nearby sites how to follow the sun, the BBC reports.

However, experts note that much about the ancient sites remains shrouded in mystery.

Source: Arizona’s mysterious clock of ancient times

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.


Ivan is editor-in-chief at, he also writes for Universe Explorers.
You may have seen him appear on the Discovery and History Channel.

Scientists Successfully Implant The Memory Of A Snail In The Brain Of Another

As it’s boldly explained by Live Science, researchers have managed to ‘suck’ the memory out of one snail, and implant it into another snail, in a revolutionary scientific achievement.

According to a new study, there is evidence that at least a small part of our memories are stored inside the genetic code. Scientists explain that their experiment has shown that certain memories are actually encoded inside molecules that make up an organisms’ genetic machinery.

If we lived in a world like the one described in The Matrix, learning new things would be as easy as downloading them to the brains.

Something similar has happened in a laboratory in Los Angeles.

A group of researchers has managed to transfer the memory of a trained snail to the mind of an untrained one. In other words, scientists have found a way to remove the memory from one animal, and implant it into another one, making the second animal remember things that only the first one knew.

The revolutionary feat was carried out through an injection of ribonucleic acid (RNA), an element known as a “cell messenger” that performs several important functions, such as protein coding.

For their experiment, the biologists used snails of the Aplysia species. Scientists applied electrical charges to the tail of the animals, which causes signals to be sent out through their simple nervous system. Eventually, the little fleshy flaps hanging from their little snail bellies retract explains LiveScience.

An illustration from Glanzman’s paper shows the transfer of RNA from one snail to another. Image Credit: David Glanzman/UCLA

Now, if you expose the snail to electrical discharges on a regular basis, the animal will remember it’s being zapped frequently, which will cause its parapodia to retract for longer periods of time. Scientists explain that is a simple behavior which s based off a memory.

In their scientific study published in the Journal eNeuro, UCLA scientists demonstrated that they can successfully ‘suck’ that memory out of one snail in the form of RNA and stick it in another.

Surprisingly, the snails that received the RNA from the snails that had been zapped began to behave as if they themselves had gone through that experience and experienced retractions that lasted around 40 seconds.

This breakthrough can help humans, say experts.

According to the scientists, research with RNA could help in the treatment of people with traumatic memories and even in the restoration of memory losses.

The complete study was published in the Journal eNeuro.

Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For The Love Of Science! Researchers To Grow Mini Neanderthal Brains In A Lab

It’s not some morbid science project.

Scientists want to grow mini Neanderthal brains in order to figure how the –brains– of ancient people differ from our own.

This ‘unorthodox’ science project is being carried out by scientists at the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Scientists from the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have greatly contributed to the sequencing of the genomes of ancient human species.

But in order to continue their research and make further progress, the Guardian reports they want to ‘dig into’ and explore the cognitive ability of ancient humans—Neanderthals specifically—by growing mini brains in the lab.

Scientists will create miniature brains that have been genetically engineered containing Neanderthal DNA.

Experts have long debated about Neanderthal cognitive ability. For most of the 20th century, it was assumed that the cave-dwelling hominins were not very smart. But in the last couple of years, experts have slowly started changing their opinion about Neanderthal’s.

“Neanderthals are the closest relatives to everyday humans, so if we should define ourselves as a group or a species it is really them that we should compare ourselves to,” Prof Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology’s genetics department in Leipzig, Germany, said in an interview with the Guardian.

“We’re seeing if we can find basic differences in how nerve cells function that may be a basis for why humans seem to be cognitively so special,” Pääbo added.

Experts have found in the not-so-distant-past how Neanderthals were much smarter than they thought initially. It has been found that Neanderthals were very creative.

As noted by IFLScience, there is evidence that suggests they even painted their bodies, crafted headdresses, and potentially even daubed caves with incredible artwork long before modern humans set foot in Europe. Not only this, but burials imply that they may have had ritualistic beliefs, and possibly even religion.

In the next couple of months, small blobs of tissue commonly referred to by experts as brain organoids will be grown from human stem cells that have been genetically engineered to contain “Neanderthalized” versions of a number of genes.

The lab-grown organoids are incapable of feelings and thoughts will mimic basic structure of an adult brain. Experts hope that this will demonstrate if there is a meaningful difference between Neanderthal and human brain biology.

The lab-grown brains will become the size on a lentil, say, researchers.

As noted by the Smithsonian, people outside of Africa have been found to contains between 2 and 6 percent of Neanderthal DNA.

Gray Camp, a group leader at the institute, explained the experiment to The Guardian: “You start the organoid growing and leave it for nine months and see what happens.”

“You don’t get a well-formed human brain at all, but you see multiple regions have kind of formed,” added Camp, who is overseeing the organoid experiments. “You can study the synapses and electrical activity and early developmental differences.”

Source: Scientists to grow ‘mini-brains’ using Neanderthal DNA

Featured Image Credit: Allan Henderson/Flickr CC)

Mankind Threatens To Destroy A Third Of Earth’s Protected Areas

And it’s some worrying sh*t.

Up to 32.8 percent of protected land on our planet is already highly degraded due to human activity and infrastructure.

“It is time for the global conservation community to stand up and hold governments to account so that they take the conservation of their protected areas seriously…”

Scientists have recently come to the conclusion that a third of the world’s protected areas are under intense human pressure. Our way of life is directly threatening a third of our planets protected areas that have been set aside for wildlife.

The latest study suggests the human race is in need of ‘a stunning reality check’ for causing a ‘biodiversity crisis’.

Cities, towns, and rural industries have made a nearly irreparable damage.

Published in Science, the new study draws much-needed attention to human impact in the world most vulnerable, protected areas.

Shocking Discoveries

The research, led by the University of Queensland, Australia, found that six million square kilometers of protected land–equivalent to two thirds the size of China, or an area twice as large as Alaska –are in a state in which they are unlikely to conserve the biodiversity at risk.

Scientists used the most comprehensive global map of human pressure on the environment, the so-called human footprint, in order to analyze the consequences of human activity across more than 50,000 areas worldwide.

Worrying stuff

Kendall Jones, a doctoral student who participated in the study, says that in some cases the damage scale was surprising, with the greatest impacts found in densely populated places, such as Asia, Europe, and Africa.

“A well-run protected area network is essential in saving species.”

“We found major road infrastructures such as highways, industrial agriculture, and even entire cities occurring inside the boundaries of places supposed to be set aside for nature conservation.”

“More than 90 percent of protected areas, such as national parks and nature reserves, showed some signs of damaging human activities.”

Furthermore, according to University of Queensland Professor James Watson, a Wildlife Conservation Society research director, the new study is evidence that countries around the globe are overestimating the space available for nature inside protected areas.

“Governments are claiming these places are protected for the sake of nature when in reality they aren’t,” Professor Watson said.

“It is a major reason why biodiversity is still in catastrophic decline, despite more and more land being protected over the past few decades.”

The numbers

The new study suggests that around 32.8 percent of protected land our planet is already highly degraded thanks to human activity and infrastructure.

42 percent of protected lands remain free of any human pressure. Scientists note that areas free of human pressure tend to be more remote and isolated regions such as places in Canada in Russia.

“There are also many protected areas that are still in good condition and protect the last strongholds of endangered species worldwide,” Professor Watson explained.

“The challenge is to ensure those protected areas that are most valuable for nature conservation get the most attention from governments and donors to ensure they safeguard it.”

Featured Image Credit: Greenpeace International / Instagram

Source: World’s protected areas being rapidly destroyed by humanity

Article Originally published on Posted with permission.


Ivan is editor-in-chief at, he also writes for Universe Explorers.
You may have seen him appear on the Discovery and History Channel.