Juno

NASA spacecraft Juno (see www.jpl.nova.gov/news July 12th ... is being assembled in Denver - and a unique protective shield is being added around its electronics. The magnetic field of Jupiter, and an intense barrage of cosmic radiation, is extremely powerful, and this is thought to have something to do with its faster speed of rotation.

Ancient Destructions

The web site of Peter Jupp at http://ancientdestructions.blogspot.com has some interesting articles that members, I am sure, will be interested in reading. For example, 'Bad to the Bones' is based on Aboriginal mythology which appears to refer to gods associated in some sense with the sky, a once verdant landscape, and a catastrophe that brought it to an end (written by Rens van der Sluijs).

Thunderbolts

At www.thunderbolts.info July 10th ... we have a story about the birth of Aphrodite but rather than rising up out of the foam of the sea she appears to have merged out of a fiery furnace - in this instance, Aprhodite of myth (a goddess figure) is equated with the planet Venus. Hence, the story is really about discoveries made by the 'Venus Express' of the atmosphere of that planet. In addition, it concerns the Russian Venura class landing vehicles that revealed a rock strewn and sandy terrain - with a surface temperature of 500 degrees.

Zahi Hawass and C14 dating methodology

See www.almasryalyaum.com/en/print/54897 ... Zahi Hawass, commenting on the new Bayesian C14 dates as reported on In the News June 18th (as published in Science). He says carbon 14 has a margin of error of 100 years. In order to date Egyptian dynasties we need specific dates, C14 should not be used to make changes to the chronology of ancient Egypt, not even as a helpful addition. We can use geoarchaeology, DNA, laser scanning - but carbon dating is unclear.

Plant genes

www.physorg.com/print197739400.html is a story about how it is thought the wild grass teosinte developed into corn (maize). Experiments in domestication have shown it is possible that domestic plants took fewer than 20 generations to take place - a very short space of time. This appears to contradict the archaeology and this article is a bit of a fight-back by palaeo-botanists against geneticists.

shrinking protons

a paper in Nature July 8th (see www.sciencenews.org ) indicates protons are smaller than previously thought - by some 4 per cent. This doesn't sound a big deal, you might think, but scientists say this could have 'enormous implications' and 'something is 'drastically wrong'. It could be there is something amiss with quantum electro-dynamics, the theory of how light and matter interact by incorporating Einstein's special relativity into quantum mechanics (see also pre-publication news report on In the News last week).

British Oldies

The Guardian July 7th (see www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/jul/07/first-humans-britain-stone-tools/print is a story about flint tools found on a beach at Happisburgh in Norfolk that are said to be some 840,000 to 950,000 years of age, based on dating the geology (or sediments). The tools according to Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, are mint fresh and exceptionally sharp - which suggests they have not moved very far from where they were left - if at all.

Roman Galilee

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100707080941.htm - archaeologists exploring the Galilee region in the Roman period have found a synagogue which is being dated to around 400AD.

Hoard of Roman Coins in a field in Somerset

Some 52,500 bronze and silver coins dating from the 3rd century AD have been  found by a hobby metal detectorist in a field near Frome in the West Country. It is the largest single hoard ever found in Britain - and they all date between 253-293AD. A Roman road ran nearby but there is no trace, as yet, of a villa or settlement, so it is a bit puzzling. Archaeologists said that hoards are usually buried at times of invasion and civil unrest - the Irish and Saxon raids of the 5th century might be a more fitting time.

Neanderthal diet

We often hear about the Neanderthal diet - lots of meat. They hunted mammoths using only wooden spears - and approached near enough to get a shot into a vital spot - but is this picture true? A study in Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia repeats the same old stereo-type, prompted by some Russian research on an arm-bone of a Neanderthal that had lived some 100,000 years ago.