Archive for March, 2019

Climate change may have driven a band of Neanderthals to cannibalism

March 31st, 2019
Climate change may have driven a band of Neanderthals to cannibalism

(credit: Photograph by ORNL)

A new study suggests that a group of Neanderthals in southeast France resorted to cannibalism to survive lean times. If that says anything about Neanderthals, it’s that they weren’t so different from us—for better and for worse.

The bones in the cave

Something awful happened in Moula-Guercy cave in southeastern France around 120,000 years ago. Archaeologists excavating the site in the early 1990s found the bones of six Neanderthals near the eastern wall of the cave, disarticulated and mingled with bones from deer and other wildlife. That mixing of bones, as though the dead Neanderthals had been discarded with the remains of their food, is strange enough; there’s plenty of evidence that Neanderthals typically buried their dead. But at Moula-Guercy, at least six Neanderthals—two adults, two teenagers, and two children—received very different treatment. Their bones and those of the deer show nearly-identical marks of cutting, scraping, and cracking, the kind of damage usually associated with butchering.

“When numerous human remains are discovered on an undisturbed living floor, with similar patterns of damage, mixed with animal remains, stone tools, and fireplaces, they can legitimately interpreted as evidence of cannibalism,” wrote Alban Defleur and Emmanuel Desclaux in a recent paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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Posted in ancient people did stuff, Archaeology, biological archaeology, cannibalism, forensic archaeology, hominins, interglacial, Neanderthals, paleoanthropology, science | Comments (0)

Judge says Trump can’t re-open Arctic waters that Obama closed to drilling

March 31st, 2019
Horizon over sea ice in the Arctic.

Enlarge / United States, Alaska, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Kaktovik, frozen lagoon and sea, pack ice formation. (credit: Getty Images)

On Friday, a federal judge ruled that President Trump could not re-authorize drilling in Arctic waters after President Obama removed those waters from drilling in 2016.

If the Alaskan judge's ruling withstands appeal, it would mean that the Trump Administration would have to seek approval from Congress to re-open federal waters north of Alaska to oil and gas drilling. Congress, currently divided with a Republican majority in the Senate and a Democratic majority in the House, would be unlikely to agree to such a request.

Why are these waters in question?

In December 2016, the outgoing Obama Administration invoked a 1953 law called the "Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act" (OCSLA) to remove about 125 million acres of Arctic waters north of Alaska from potential leasing to oil drilling operations. (This excluded roughly 3.2 million acres of lease-able waters adjacent to the coast, approximately 200,000 of which are currently under active leases to oil and gas companies.)

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Posted in Arctic, drilling, Energy, Government, oil, Policy, science | Comments (0)

The Analogue Mega Sg answers why anyone would pay $190 for a new Sega Genesis

March 31st, 2019
The Analogue Mega Sg comes with none of these attached things. But if you can bring your own games and controllers to its blast processing party, you're in for a very, very good time.

Enlarge / The Analogue Mega Sg comes with none of these attached things. But if you can bring your own games and controllers to its blast processing party, you're in for a very, very good time. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

To start any conversation about the Analogue Mega Sg—a new, $190 take on the original Sega Genesis (née Mega Drive in Europe and Japan) that's available for "pre-order" but has already begun shipping—let's identify a few classic gamer niches. This impressive device simply isn't for everyone.

Are you a classic Sega devotee—as in, starting with the SG-1000, continuing through the Master System, Genesis, and Game Gear, ending with the Sega CD, and going no further? That's the territory this classic-gaming box covers.

Are you the kind of Sega Genesis freak who abides by the gospel of pure, original gameplay, as opposed to emulation? The Analogue Mega Sg has you covered. It delivers the most authentic Genesis visuals, colors, control, and sound I've ever seen via an HDMI connection.

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Posted in analogue, Features, Gaming & Culture, mega sg, Sega Genesis | Comments (0)

A Trinity of Shellcode, AES & Go – @syscall59

March 31st, 2019
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The Journey to Try Harder: TJNull’s Preparation Guide for PWK/OSCP

March 31st, 2019
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Senate re-introduces bill to help advanced nuclear technology

March 31st, 2019
A pair of nuclear towers against a blue sky.

Enlarge / The Watts Bar nuclear power plant in Tennessee. (credit: Tennessee Valley Authority / Flickr)

Last week, a bipartisan group of 15 US senators re-introduced a bill to instate the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA), which would offer incentives and set federal goals for advanced nuclear energy. A smaller group of senators originally introduced the bill in September of last year, but the Congressional session ended before the Senate voted on it.

Specifically, the bill authorizes the federal government to enter into 40-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with nuclear power companies, as opposed to the 10-year agreements that were previously authorized. Securing a 40-year PPA would essentially guarantee to an advanced nuclear startup that it could sell its power for 40 years, which reduces the uncertainty that might come with building a complex and complicated power source.

Advanced nuclear reactors are next-generation technology that improve upon the large light-water reactors that are in use today. Traditional light-water reactor nuclear power has struggled in the United States, because reactors cost billions of dollars to build and communities are reluctant to accept new nuclear builds due to fears about reactor meltdowns and terrorist attacks. In addition to all this, nuclear waste is an unsolved problem in the US—there is currently no official disposal site for commercial nuclear waste, and while a solution to that problem is technically feasible, it has also been politically intractable.

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Posted in Energy, Government, Nuclear, Policy, science, Senate | Comments (0)

Inside a Ferrari Hypercar, Lyft’s IPO, and More Car News

March 31st, 2019
Plus, we ride the Jeep Gladiator and ponder the future of electric vehicles, courtesy of battery-swapping rickshaws.

Posted in Transportation, Transportation / Car News | Comments (0)

The Mueller Report Tops This Week’s Internet News Roundup

March 31st, 2019
The report is done, but the debate rages on.

Posted in culture, Culture / Digital Culture | Comments (0)

The true dollar cost of the anti-vaccine movement

March 31st, 2019
The true dollar cost of the anti-vaccine movement

Enlarge (credit: CDC/NIP/ Barbara Rice)

Two years ago, a 6-year-old boy playing on his family’s farm in Oregon cut himself. His parents cleaned the wound and stitched it, and everything seemed fine—until, six days later, he began having muscle spasms, arching his back, and clenching his jaw. The boy had tetanus, the first case in a child to occur in Oregon in more than 30 years.

Tetanus is rare because a routine childhood vaccine prevents it. The boy’s parents had elected not to vaccinate him. A case report written by a physician who treated him along with staff members at the state health department and published this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relates what happened next.

The boy was airlifted to a university medical center and given immunotherapy and the first dose of the vaccine regimen he had missed. His spasms were so severe he could not open his mouth or breathe, so he was admitted to an intensive care unit, placed in a medical coma, and put on a ventilator. His body couldn’t regulate itself; his heart rate sped up and his temperature soared and dipped, so he had to be pumped full of IV drugs to keep his vital signs under control.

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Posted in anti-vax, science, wired | Comments (0)

How the Brain Links Gestures, Perception, and Meaning

March 31st, 2019
Neuroscience has found that gestures are not merely important as tools of expression but as guides of cognition and perception.

Posted in science, Science / Psychology and Neuroscience | Comments (0)