stone age amputation July 5th ... stone age surgeons (4900BC) in France performed an amputation operation on a man whose skeleton was found 40km south of Paris with grave goods suggesting he was an important member of the community. According to the Daily Mail he was probably given pain killing plants such as hallucinogenics, when the knife cut flesh.

Na Dene and Ket

This is probably an old story but it pops up at - researchers at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks claim there is an ancient language link between people of northern Siberia, namely the Ket, and possibly other small tribes of the Yenisei Valley, and North America, a discovery that has been endorsed by linguistic scholars.

Greek Fire June 28th ... Greek inventor Archimedes is said to have used mirrors to burn the ships of an attacking Roman fleet advancing on Syracuse. The story comes from the medieval period and appears to be an attempt, at that time, to try and understand what Archimedes did. New research has suggested he may have used steam cannons and fiery cannonballs, instead of mirrors (a process that is too slow). The battle took place between 214 and 212BC but no contemporary Greek or Roman source mentions a device involving mirrors.

exhibition in Oxford

There is an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford on 'The Lost World of Old Europe' - basically, Europe between 6000 and 3000BC, the Climatic Optimum (or a period of history sandwiched between two events). Various objects from the Danube civilisation and the Balkans will be on display, including from the Varna civilisation. There is evidence of widespread trade from northern France, Germany and Denmark, across central and eastern Europe into South Russia, and the artifacts reflect this situation. Exhibition from now until August 15th.

Electric Universe ... snippets of news ...

The big news is that Wal Thornhill is addressing an SIS meeting next week - at the Harlequin theatre in Redhill, Surrey (just off the M25). To get an idea of what is being discussed go to where there is an outline of the model suitable for the uninitiated.

Altitude ... Snowballs ... the journal Science (July 2nd) claims Tibetans and Han Chinese separated from each other just 2750 years ago. The group that moved into Tibet dwindled in numbers but the lesser group, remaining at a low altitude, expanded dramatically. As such the Tibetans adapted to a very high altitude in a very short period of time - and the Han went on to dominate China. This story reappears on Daily Galaxy on July 3rd, posted by Casey Kazan.

keeping a track on what the Sun is doing .... ... Proba-2 is a small member of ESAs fleet of satellites but it is full of experimental technology. It has returned 90,000 images of the surface of the Sun in the last 8 months. It is capable of following coronal mass ejections as they leave the solar surface - although these are currently in short supply. In addition, a piece of Czech technology is able to measure the plasma environment around the satellite.

exploding stars June 30th ... supernovae are stellar explosions that can be seen across the entire universe. Type 1a supernovae are used by researchers to observe the acceleration of the universe. It has long been known they exhibit considerable variation in their spectra - but the reasons why this is so have been unknown, or certainly so, until now. Scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute think they have the answer.

Moon impact

At July 1st ... from a lunar sample collected by Apollo 17 astronauts 40 years ago scientists have detected and dated carbon on the Moon - in the form of graphite. It dates back almost 4 billion years ago (estimate) and formed during a meteorite impact event. The carbon came either from the inpactor, and as it was found near the Mare Serenitatus there is a good chance the depression was formed at the same time, or alternatively, it condensed from carbon rich gas released during the impact event.

The debate on dark matter

At June 30th, Casey Kazan is stirring things up again and needling some of his readers. The title is what they find upsetting, 'The Jupiter Effect: Is everything we know about the universe wrong?' - is in fact the story I posted a few days ago on In the News - the discovery that dark energy and dark matter may not exist. This version is worth another look to anybody so inclined as Kazan has a habit of stirring the pot - and by the tone of some of the comments at the end of the piece  they do not like his style.