Life on Mars (?)

At we have a report that seems to suggest that NASAs Viking Mars Lander mission in 1976 may actually have examined soil that contained carbon based building blocks of life. Organics and perchlorate may have been present in the soil  although it is quite possible the organics had an origin in meteorites - and the ability of perchlorate to break down organic material was not realised at the time.

Dancing Electrons

At a report on a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that was prompted by physicists who struggled to understand the dance between electrons that create magnetic fields. A new model was formulated to learn more about quantum quirks of high temperature super conductors that has apparently had the side effect on the understanding of ferromagnetism.

Water and Ocean Currents

At there is another ESA report - this time on the role of the Amazon and the Orinoco in the Ocean Circulation system in the South Atlantic. Fresh water from the Amazon tends to create a flow or current of low salinity surface water. It seems to circle back on itself as a result of a much stronger ocean current off the coast of northern Brazil which is the southern equivalent of the North Atlantic's Gulf Stream - and well recorded in ocean circulation research.

Water and Stars

At there is a report from ESA (the European Space Agency) that the Herschel infrared space observatory has discovered that ultraviolet starlight is a key ingredient for making water in the atmosphere of some stars. It is the only explanation, they continue, for why a dying star is surrounded by a gigantic cloud of hot water vapour (published in Nature September 2nd).

Humans in the Amazon Basin

At ... the Washington Post, September 3rd, has a post on the Amazon rainforest - in this instance the section that is in Peru, below the Andes mountains. It begins by saying the idea that the Amazon Basin is a virgin environment unblemished by the excesses of human behaviour, and in fact barely touched by a human footprint, seems to be wrong.

A couple of sites on a revised chronology

At we have a development on the ideas of John Lascelles and news of a two volume book shortly to be published by a former member of the SIS, John Crowe. Basically, it is all about redating the Trojan War and relocating the site of Troy. Interesting ideas that deserve to be aired in the public areana.

Another city under the sea

At September 2nd ... BP aims to drill some exploratory oil wells off the Libyan coast and this has alarmed French archaeologists who are worried about some ancient sites that exist below and at sea level in what was once Cyrenaica and Tripolitania in the Classical period - quite apart from anything that may date from before the Grreks and Romans. For example, the ancient town and harbour of Apollonia is now submerged, under 5m of water.

Near Earth Update - NASA report

This story from NASA (see September 2nd) has popped up all over the blogosphere, with various angles to the headlines. NASAs Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed  a lot of new information about near earth objects orbiting in near space - mainly asteroids, or defunct comets. However, the composition of these bodies turns out to be highly varied. Some are dark and dull and others shiny and bright (the Astronomical Journal September issue).

Bronze Age surgeons

New Scientist 2775 August 31st ... the discovery of what looks like a scalpel at an Early Bronze Age settlement at Ikiztepe in Anatolia (dating between 3200-2100BC). The site consisted of single storey houses made of logs of wood with a courtyard and oven in front. The scalpels are thought to have been used for surgery rather than ritual as some skeletons found in a graveyard exhibit evidence of skulls being cut open as if with a surgical instrument.


Associated Press September Ist ... archaeologists have found an Iron Age temple in Jordan believed to date back to the Kingdom of Moab. Figurines and clay vessels have been found but the nature of the rituals has yet to be defined. The interest in the site will arise when evidence of contact with the outside world is found - Assyria, Egypt, the Babylonians etc. It seems Moab was primarily located laong the spine of mountains and hills on the eastern side of the Dead Sea - not far from modern Amman (which presumably has a link with ancient Ammon).