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1  Ancient European Cultures / the Middle Ages / Volcanic role in Scottish famine on: May 19, 2010, 03:17:51 pm
Volcanic role in Scottish famine
Volcanic eruption in Iceland
Volcanic eruptions throw up dust, ash and sulphur dioxide

Outpourings of volcanic ash from Iceland in the 17th Century contributed to a period of famine and hardship in Scotland, according to experts.

A major eruption in 1695 saw large parts of the country affected by a "sulphurous fog".

Prof Alastair Dawson, writing in the latest Scottish Environment Protection Agency magazine, said it came at a time of climatic change.

Dust in the atmosphere dimmed sunlight causing crops to fail.

Prof Dawson, of the University of Aberdeen, writes in Sepa View: "We cannot be sure what the precise effect of this eruption was on Scotland's climate but we do know that the years between AD 1693-1700 were characterised by widespread famine.

"They later became known as the 'King William's Dear Years'.

"A contemporary account of this time describes how it was common for people to bring in the crops in the frosts and snow between November and February."

But he said many crops simply rotted in the fields.

Dimming sunlight

The effect of eruptions on the Highlands and Islands during the 17th Century has been investigated by other academics.

A research paper called: Endemic stress, farming communities and the influence of Icelandic volcanic eruptions in the Scottish Highlands is held in the Lyell Collection of the Geological Society.

In an interview on solar activity with the BBC News Scotland website last April, Gareth Jones - a climate research scientist at the Met Office - said volcanic ash was an important factor in influencing temperatures.

He said volcanic eruptions throw up dust, ash and sulphur dioxide.

In the upper atmosphere, the sulphur dioxide becomes droplets of sulphuric acid and this creates a veil, dimming sunlight.

Mr Jones said volcanoes were more active in the 17th and 18th Centuries than they are today.;start=20
2  General Category / General & Miscellaneous / Meteor sightings across southern Wisconsin on: May 19, 2010, 03:15:30 pm
Meteor sightings across southern Wisconsin
3  Mesoamerican Cultures / Mayan / Laser Beams Penetrating Thick Canopy Detect Thousands of New Maya Structures on: May 19, 2010, 03:13:35 pm
Laser Beams Penetrating Thick Canopy Detect Thousands of New Structures, Show Maya Adept at 'Building Green'

ScienceDaily (May 12, 2010) — A flyover of Belize's thick jungles has revolutionized archaeology worldwide and vividly illustrated the complex urban centers developed by one of the most-studied ancient civilizations -- the Maya.
See Also:

University of Central Florida researchers led a NASA-funded research project in April 2009 that collected the equivalent of 25 years worth of data in four days.

Aboard a Cessna 337, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) equipment bounced laser beams to sensors on the ground, penetrating the thick tree canopy and producing images of the ancient settlement and environmental modifications made by the inhabitants of the Maya city of Caracol within 200 square kilometers (77 square miles).

UCF anthropology professors Arlen and Diane Chase have directed archaeological excavations at Caracol for more than 25 years. The hard work of machete-wielding research scientists and students has resulted in the mapping of some 23 square kilometers (9 square miles) of ancient settlement.

The NASA technology aboard the Cessna saw beyond the rainforest and detected thousands of new structures, 11 new causeways, tens of thousands of agricultural terraces and many hidden caves -- results beyond anyone's imagination. The data also confirm the size of the city (spread over 177 square kilometers or 68 square miles) and corroborate the Chases' previous estimates for the size of the population (at least 115,000 people in A.D. 650).

Until now, Maya archeologists have been limited in exploring large sites and understanding the full nature of ancient Maya landscape modifications because most of those features are hidden within heavily forested and hilly terrain and are difficult to record. LiDAR effectively removes these obstacles.

"It's very exciting," said Arlen Chase. "The images not only reveal topography and built features, but also demonstrate the integration of residential groups, monumental architecture, roadways and agricultural terraces, vividly illustrating a complete communication, transportation and subsistence system."

UCF Biology Professor John Weishampel designed the unique LiDAR approach. He has been using lasers to study forests and other vegetation for years, but this was the first time this specific technology fully recorded an archeological ruin under a tropical rainforest.

"Further applications of airborne LiDAR undoubtedly will vastly improve our understanding of ancient Maya settlement patterns and landscape use, as well as effectively render obsolete traditional methods of surveying," Chase said.

The images taken at the end of the dry season in Belize last April took about 24 hours of flight time to capture and then three weeks to analyze by remote sensing experts from the University of Florida. Now Caracol's entire landscape can be viewed in 3-D, and that already offers new clues that promise to expand current understanding of how the Maya were able to build such a huge empire and what may have caused its destruction.

"The ancient Maya designed and maintained sustainable cities long before 'building green' became a modern term," said Diane Chase, who has worked as co-director of the Caracol Archaeological Project beside her husband for the past 25 years. Her conclusion is based on the extensive agricultural terracing LiDAR revealed.

In addition to the UCF researchers, partners include Jason Drake with the U.S. Forest Service in Tallahassee and an adjunct professor at UCF; Ramesh Shrestha, K. Slatton and William Carter of the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping; and Jaime Awe, director of the Institute of Archaeology in Belize.

Much more powerful information is anticipated from the data collected. UCF's Weishampel said rainforests play an important role in understanding and managing global warming today. The team's results also give him a snapshot of forest vegetation in that part of the world and how it was influenced by land-use practices 1,000 years ago. This may help scientists understand past human-environment interactions and changes that should be made today.

More information about the Caracol Archaeological Project can be found at:
4  Space / the Universe / Our Weird Universe Not As 'Constant' As We Thought on: May 19, 2010, 03:11:52 pm
Our Weird Universe Not As 'Constant' As We Thought

There are some things in life that we just expect to be the same. The fundamental constants of physics, such as the speed of light, the strength of gravity, the mass of a certain particle, are just some things we've learned to accept as given. However, there is tantalizing evidence that favors the hypothesis that these so-called constants change with time, thanks to some clever techniques used by radio astronomers.

ANALYSIS: Can life exist in alternate universes? By tweaking the fundamental constants of nature, 'multiverse' life might be possible.

Theoretical physicists have been trying to come up with a "theory of everything" for some time now, and we hear about efforts to do so, such as string theory. These models make predictions that can only be detected with energies much higher than any device we can dream of today, so they lie mostly out of the range of scientific testability.

There is however one piece of evidence that we can search for today, a changing of the values of fundamental constants over the lifetime of the universe. Who is well suited to look back that far in time? Astronomers, of course! Since distant galaxies are SO far away, we see their light as it was emitted millions or billions of years ago, and can thus look back into time.

This is what astronomers Nissim Kanekar, Jayaram Chengalur, and Tapasi Ghosh have tried. They looked at one of my favorite galaxies, PKS 1413+135, and detected the OH molecule (containing an oxygen and a hydrogen atom -- a.k.a. hydroxide) in both emission and absorption. This means that the molecule both absorbs the surrounding radiation at a specific frequency and emits radiation at a specific frequency, making a "dip" and a "bump" in the spectrum. (An everyday example of spectral lines might be the specific color of a laser, or the single color emitted by neon gas in a sign.)

They looked at the shape of the line, or profile, to determine that the emission and absorption both came from the same gas cloud. This is very important, since you want to test for only changes in the fundamental constants, not the different environments that produced the spectral lines.

Picture 1 CAPTION: From Kanekar, Chengalur, and Ghosh (2010). The top panel in red shows the absorption line, flipped to look like emission for easy viewing. The middle panel shows the emission line of OH. The Bottom shows the sum of these two, showing they cancel out, or have the same shape. On the left is from Westerbork, the right is from Arecibo.

Then, they measured the redshifts of the lines. As a source of emission moves away from us, which this galaxy is, the spectral line will show up at a longer wavelength, or lower frequency. You can hear redshift of sound (known as the Doppler Effect) as a train speeds past you blowing its horn!

Usually, we assume we know the rest frequency of the line as measured in the lab and can use redshift to measure the motion of the gas or galaxy. Instead, they use the fact that the lines come from the same gas, and thus must move in the same way with respect to us, and determine that the rest frequencies of the lines are slightly different from what we would expect!

The wavelength or frequency at which an atom or molecule emits light depends on the fundamental constants of the universe, such as the "fine structure constant," which determines the strength of the electromagnetic force. This keeps the negatively charged electron orbiting around a positively charged atomic nucleus, for example. These observations suggest that some fundamental constant is indeed changing since the time of this galaxy, almost 3 billion years ago.

This study joins a list of similar observations that suggest this, but the new technique of finding lines from the same gas cloud reduces a lot of the uncertainty of previous measurements. It was also observed and confirmed with both the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico (pictured top) and the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands.

Is this enough to determine the "theory of everything"? Certainly not, but it does clue us in to the possibility that the universe is indeed more weird that we can imagine.
Sources: Kanekar, Chengalur, and Ghosh (2010), and Chengalur and Kanekar (2003).
5  Space / the Universe / A vast hole in space has been unexpectedly discovered on: May 19, 2010, 03:11:05 pm
A vast hole in space has been unexpectedly discovered

By staff / May 11, 2010

A vast hole in space has been unexpectedly discovered in a part of the universe thought to be packed with a cloud of dense gas and dust – the latest in a string of cosmic finds by the European Herschel infrared space telescope.

The surprising hole in space has provided astronomers with a new glimpse at the end of the star-forming process.

"No one has ever seen a hole like this," said study team member Tom Megeath of the University of Toledo in Ohio. "It's as surprising as knowing you have worms tunneling under your lawn, but finding one morning that they have created a huge, yawning pit."

Stars are born in dense clouds of dust and gas, and while jets of gas have been spotted coming from young stars, the process of how a star uses this gas to disperse surrounding debris and emerge from its birth cloud has not been understood.

This latest discovery byHerschel, an infrared space telescope built by the European Space Agency, may be an unexpected step in the star-forming process.

A cloud of bright, reflective gas, known to astronomers as NGC 1999, is located next to a black patch of sky. For most of the 20th century, these black patches were understood to be dense clouds of dust and gas that block light that would normally pass through.

As Herschel's infrared eye looked in the direction of NGC 1999 to study nearby young stars, the cloud continued to look black, even though the telescope's infrared technology is designed to penetrate through such dense cloud material. This meant that either the cloud was immensely dense, or Herschel had happened upon a previously unexplained phenomenon.

Astronomers continued their investigation using ground-based telescopes and found the same results when looking at the patch of gas. This led to the conclusion that the patch looks black not because it is an extremely dense pocket of gas, but because it is truly empty – something had blown a hole through the cloud.

The astronomers think the hole must have been opened when the narrow jets of gas from some of the young stars in the region punctured the sheet of dust and gas that forms NGC 1999. The powerful radiation from a nearby mature star may have also helped to create the hole, researchers said.

Whatever the exact cause of the hole may be, the discovery may be an important glimpse into the way newborn stars shake off their birth clouds that helps astronomers develop a better understanding of the entire star-forming process, researchers said.

Herschel is the largest and most powerful infrared telescope in space today. The European Space Agency launched the observatory into orbit in May 2009.
6  Search for the Sacred / World Religions / Re: The rapture: Hoax or Hope? on: May 19, 2010, 03:09:52 pm
1. The final seven years will begin when the Antichrist and the international community give their support to Israel’s right to exist in the land promised to Abraham by God. This is called the confirmation of the covenant (Daniel 9:27 & Genesis 15:18). Israel’s Prime Minister has openly stated that the number one goal of his administration is to obtain the support of the international community for Israel’s final borders.
   2. A war will begin from the vicinity of the Euphrates River (Revelation 9:13-16). Most of the Euphrates River is in Iraq. The United States has 140,000 troops stationed along the Euphrates at this time. The conflict between the U.S. and Islamic Fundamentalism is not diminishing, but increasing around the world.
   3. The West Bank (Judea) in Israel will become a place of great tribulation (Matthew 24:15-21). Ehud Olmert has openly stated that he will withdraw from the West Bank (Judea). When Israel withdraws, the Hamas terrorist state will take over in Judea, precipitating a bloodbath.
   4. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be placed under a sharing arrangement between Jew and Gentile (Revelation 11:1-2). President Clinton suggested the sharing of the Temple Mount in July of 2000. It is generally believed this is the only possible solution to the Temple Mount dispute whenever the issue is finally resolved.
   5. The Jewish temple will be built on the Temple Mount (Revelation 11:1-2 & 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). All the furniture for Israel’s Third Temple is now complete;

   1. The Temple Mount will be placed under the supervision of the world community, and the leader of the world community, which will at that time be the Antichrist, will stand on the Temple Mount claiming to be God (2 Thessalon- ians 2:3-4). Ehud Barak, Israeli Prime Minister in the year 2000, suggested placing the Temple Mount under UN control in order to make a sharing of the Temple Mount possible. When the UN takes control of the Temple Mount, the leader of the world government will feel justified in claiming ultimate authority there.
   2. A world government will dominate the world for three and one-half years prior to Armageddon (Daniel 7:23 & Revelation 13:7). The nations of the world are increasingly recognizing the authority of international law. We now have the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization and the World Court  just to name a few. We have a World Court to adjudicate the international laws of the emerging world government.
   3. Each person on earth will be required to have a mark or a number in order to buy or sell (Revelation 13:16-18). On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed the Real ID Act. The law requires that every American must have a national ID card. Without this card, a person will not be able to hold a job or open a bank account. Without a job or a bank account, how much buying and selling will an individual be able to do? Oh, by the way, you can’t get your card without giving your number…your social security number.
   4. The world community, led by Russia and Iran, will invade the nation of Israel (Zechariah 14:2-4 & Ezekiel 38 & 39) Iran (Persia) and Russia (Meshech—root word for Moscovi or Moscow) are now in alliance. Iran is the leading advocate of “wiping Israel off the map.”
7  Search for the Sacred / World Religions / The rapture: Hoax or Hope? on: May 19, 2010, 03:09:40 pm
The Rapture: What Is It?
The Rapture is an "end times" event ("eschatological" event) where Jesus Christ returns for His Church and believers who are "alive and remain shall be caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thessalonians 4:16-17). This is the time of the resurrection, where each Christian receives his or her resurrected body. First to receive their new bodies are those who have died as Christians, and then, those who are "alive and remain."

      Take notice, I am telling you a secret. We shall not all die but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet call. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall all be changed"
      (I Corinthians 15:51-52).

The Rapture: When Will It Happen?
The timing of the Rapture sparks a great debate within Christianity. Does it occur before, during, or after the tribulation period? The tribulation is a seven-year period that immediately precedes the return of Christ and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, which lasts for 1,000 years. The first 3 ˝ years of the tribulation will be a time of peace and cooperation, and the second 3 ˝ years of the tribulation will be a time of war and catastrophe. At the midpoint of the tribulation, the Antichrist will proclaim himself god and require worship from all people of the world. Many will bow down and worship the Antichrist, including taking his mark of worldwide registration. Some will refuse to worship the Antichrist and receive his mark, and many will be killed for this act of disobedience. The second half of the tribulation is referred to as the "Great Tribulation." There will be extraordinary catastrophes all over the world during this period. (For scriptural support, see Revelation 3:10, Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 17).

So, the main debate on the Rapture is not what it is, but when it will occur in relation to the tribulation. In summary, the pre-tribulation view is that the rapture will happen before the tribulation period; the mid-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur half-way through the tribulation period; and the post-tribulation view is that the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation period.

The Rapture: Does the Timing Matter for Believers in Jesus Christ?
The pre-tribulation rapture is a wonderful hope for believers in Jesus Christ. However, whether we live to see a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture, or whether we die prior to any type of rapture at all, the key to eternal salvation is, in all cases, our belief and faith in Jesus Christ alone. Be secure in your relationship with Christ, and nothing else really matters.

      "...For I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when I have gone and have prepared a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself so that where I am, you also will be"
      (John 14:2-3).

      "For with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven, and those who died in Christ will rise first. Afterward we, the living who remain, will be cauht up along with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall forever be with the Lord"
      (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
8  Asia & the Pacific Rim / China & the Asian Empires / China boom may be ending, warns OECD on: May 19, 2010, 03:07:57 pm
China boom may be ending, warns OECD
The breakneck Chinese economic boom may be starting to unravel, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned.

By Edmund Conway
Published: 5:30AM BST 11 May 2010
China boom may be ending, warns OECD.

The Paris-based institution warned that the economy, which has continued to grow rapidly throughout the recent global recession, and has helped support growth worldwide, may be facing a sudden "halt in expansion".

The warning, revealed by the OECD's composite leading indicators (CLI) – a measure of economic turning points – will fuel fears that the Asian giant may be set for more troubled times.

The OECD said the CLI for China has dropped from 102.7 points at the turn of the year to 102.2 in March. The fall is significant, since the indicator is regarded as a reliable bellwether for turning points, and has a reliable record of forewarning the peaks and troughs for leading economies in recent years. It came as the People's Bank of China released a report saying that it would improve the technical mechanism of the yuan's peg to the US dollar.
9  Egypt & the Pyramids / Egypt & the Pyramids / Ancient Egyptian 'Nilometer' Helped Measure River's Height on: May 19, 2010, 03:07:18 pm
Egyptian archaeologists carrying routine excavations at the so-called “Avenue of Sphinxes,” have unearthed the remains of a 5th century Egyptian Christian church and a "nilometer," a structure used to measure the level of the Nile during floods.

Already announced by Dr. Sabry Abd El Aziz, head of the SCA's Egyptology sector, in a 2008 Discovery News exclusive interview, the Avenue of Sphinx project involves the restoration of a 2.7-km (1.7-mile) ancient processional avenue that connects the grand temples of Luxor and Karnak on the east bank of the Nile River.

Built some 3,400 years ago, the alley was guarded on both sides by 1,350 majestic statues in the shape of sphinxes -- mythological creatures with the body of a lion and head of a human or ram.

The pathway, complete with rest places, chapels and sphinxes with ram heads, was originally built by King Amenhotep III (1410-1372 B.C.). It was then reconstructed by the 30th Dynasty King Nectanebo I (380-362 B.C.), who replaced the ram-headed sphinxes with his own head.
10  Ancient Mediterranean Cultures / Israelities / Where Jews fled from Roman destruction beneath the streets of Jerusalem on: May 19, 2010, 03:06:01 pm
 BAR  36:03, May/Jun 2010
Escape Clause
Where Jews fled from Roman destruction beneath the streets of Jerusalem
Josephus tells of the Jews who fled to the “mines” (underground passages) when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and burned the Temple in 70 C.E. The victorious Romans then “instituted a search for those in the mines, and, tearing up the ground slew all whom they met.”1 Some of the Jews were dying of hunger, while others had already perished. The “stench from the bodies” was “horrible,” Josephus tells us.2
At least part of these “mines” have recently been excavated by archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron in the City of David. The “mines” consist of a drainage tunnel beneath a magnificent roadway that extended from the western wall of the Temple Mount south to the Pool of Siloam.a The northern part of the roadway, adjacent to the western wall of the Temple Mount, was excavated by Reich long ago.b But only recently was the southern part uncovered.
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